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Howard Football Impresses in First Pro Day Since 2017

Howard seniors tested themselves in front of NFL and Canadian Football League (CFL) scouts on Thursday afternoon at Howard’s Pro Day.

Defensive lineman Darrian Brokenburr attempts the bench press during the testing. (Photo courtesy of Badi Cross).

The eagerly anticipated Howard Football Pro Day, which was held on March 28, marked the return after a hiatus since 2017. Many collegiate football programs host a Pro Day for professional scouts to measure and test the school’s student-athletes ahead of their respective drafts. 

The Pro Day was attended by scouts representing notable teams such as the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts and the Edmonton Elks of the CFL.

The schedule for the day commenced with an aptitude test, setting the tone for a day. The evaluation began with official height and weight measurements, hand size assessments, a bench press test, a vertical jump test, the 40-yard dash and other speed-based tests.

As the day progressed, individual skill group drills provided a platform for players to showcase their talents and potential. The culmination of the showcase saw the offensive lineman lead the charge.

Howard offensive lineman Anim Dankwah, who is projected to be a late-round pick in the 2024 NFL draft, was one of the big names on display.

Dankwah measured 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighed in at 349 pounds. He didn’t participate in the bench press or vertical jump but did run the 40-yard dash and jumped 7 feet 4 in in the broad jump. He also participated in the offensive lineman drills.

Anim Dankwah running a lineman drill at Greene Stadium. (Photo courtesy of Badi Cross).

Another standout Bison was running back Ian Wheeler. Wheeler participated in the HBCU NFL Combine on Feb. 19, executing many of the same drills during the Pro Day event.

Following the day’s action, Wheeler said he was happy with the results, feeling even more confident going into the draft.

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“I was pretty sure [about making it to the next level] before today,” Wheeler said. “But now that I’ve improved all my numbers from my performance at the HBCU Combine, I’m very confident in my ability to at least have a chance.”

Wheeler ran what was reported by scout Gerald Huggins to be an unofficial sub-4.4 in the 40-yard dash, improving on his 4.57 at the HBCU Combine and improved his vertical jump and broad jump to 38.5” and 10 feet 5 inches, respectively.

The success of this year has created a lot of buzz for the Bison, with some of the players on the roster being rumored to possess the potential of being able to be drafted into the NFL.

This achievement hasn’t been realized by a Howard player since the induction of Super Bowl champion, Antoine Bethea, who was drafted in 2006 as the 207th pick to the Colts. Bethea, a member of the Howard Athletics’ Hall of Fame, attended the Pro Day, offering insights from the sidelines.

Bethea has been involved in the players’ journeys, providing them with advice on how to approach the upcoming draft. He says that he’s emphasized to them to “control what they can control”.

“People may have different opinions on you, but you can’t control that,” Bethea said. “What you can control is your attitude and your work ethic. So they just need to put the work in.”

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Antoine Bethea (seated second to the left) looks on as the Pro Day commences outdoors. (Photo courtesy of Badi Cross).

Howard football head coach Larry Scott echoed Bethea’s sentiment, saying that he’d been urging his players to be the best versions of themselves.

“I’ve been telling them, ‘You have to make sure you’re preparing yourself,’” Scott said. “You don’t ever rise to the occasion, you fall back on how you’ve built.”

Copy edited by D’ara Campbell


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