'A beautiful place to be': Johnstown's Loe adapting to life, football in Germany

Aug. 23—Three games into his professional football career, Greater Johnstown High School graduate Exree Loe is adapting to life and the game in Germany.

The West Virginia University product is a linebacker for the Munich Ravens in the European League of Football. The Ravens next play the Milano Seamen on Saturday.

"The head coach is John Shoop. His brother (current University of South Florida defensive coordinator Bob Shoop) recruited me in high school when he was the defensive coordinator at Penn State," Loe said. "Munich went down a linebacker. I got a call. He asked me to come join.

"It was a decision I didn't have to think about, honestly. It's the biggest league in Europe and I wanted to show my talents."

The Ravens have two more regular-season games and are hoping to earn a postseason berth. In three games, Loe has 17 tackles — not bad considering the hastily organized journey he made to join the Munich team.

"I had a day or two to get stuff packed," Loe said. "I had to ride the train 2 1/2 hours over here. I had to leave some things behind and go back two weeks later and grab it. I got the playbook. It was a quick adjustment."

Loe spent five seasons at West Virginia University due to a redshirt and the COVID-19 pandemic season. He was a special teams leader and linebacker who made 53 tackles as a senior.

The versatile 5-foot-11, 214-pound Loe battled adversity throughout his college career, undergoing surgery three times and contending with the disruptions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Loe finished with 117 solo tackles and 184 career stops, playing at linebacker and in the Mountaineers' secondary.

He had hoped to sign a free agent deal with a NFL team after going undrafted in April.

Loe continued to work out and prepare, even after no NFL teams came calling.

"I'm hoping this does what I plan on it to do — get film, get my name back out there and get an opportunity," Loe said. "It's a great experience out here, for sure.

"I joined in the middle of the season. We play 12 games, and then playoffs start in about three weeks. We're still in the hunt for playoffs. I'm trying to make that happen."

The third-largest city in Germany, Munich is a first-year franchise in the European League of Football. The Ravens are 5-5.

"It's a beautiful city. You see things you really don't see in America, like the architecture in the buildings," Loe said. "Life is different out here. It was a big adjustment, but it's a beautiful city and a beautiful place to be."

The European league permits teams to carry four American players, with no more than two U.S. imports playing at the same time.

"The game itself is the same," Loe said. "You really have to help guys understand the game more from your perspective as an American football player. I'm starting to get to know guys better and building relationships."

Those who have followed Loe's career shouldn't be surprised by his determination and ability to adapt. Loe was The Tribune-Democrat Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, and the former Trojans standout shared The Tribune-Democrat All-2000s Team top athlete honors with Ligonier Valley graduate Collin Smith.

"I'm just here and I do my job," Loe said of his role with the Ravens. "I still play linebacker. I just try to be more of a leader and show guys the ropes and make sure they understand the game better. That makes the team play better defensively."