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The Hilltop


Multiple Bison Land With NFL Teams Following Draft 

Howard University football players, Ian Wheeler and Anim Dankwah, secured their spots in the NFL by signing deals after the draft.

Graphics released by the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears after the draft showcasing their new talent. (Photos Courtesy of @hubisonfootball).

Following the 2024 NFL Draft, the Howard University football program had two players sign with NFL teams. Running back Ian Wheeler signed with the Chicago Bears and offensive lineman Anim Dankwah agreed to a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. 

They inked these Undrafted Free Agent (UDFA) deals after day three of the draft on April 27.

Collectively, the duo led Howard to back-to-back MEAC titles and its first-ever trip to the Celebration Bowl this past season.

Wheeler, hailing from Houston, finished his career with nearly 2,500 all-purpose yards while returning a school-record three kickoffs for touchdowns. 

The former walk-on also excelled in the classroom, earning a cumulative 3.57 GPA and was named to the MEAC Commissioner’s All-Academic Team. In October 2023, the Houston product was accepted into Howard University’s medical school.

Wheeler was in talks with the Bears from early April and said he is excited to have the opportunity to show his talent on the biggest stage.

“The Bears reached out to my agents at the beginning of April and there was just a lot of mutual interest,” Wheeler said. “It was super exciting to be seen as someone with priority and to be seen as someone the team can develop into someone that can make an impact for the team.”

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However, with Wheeler being the first running back from Howard to sign with an NFL team since 1988, 217th pick Harvey Reed, who was also selected by the Chicago Bears, Wheeler understands the work has just begun.

“Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do,” Wheeler said. “I’ve been given an opportunity to showcase my talents and make an impact on a professional level. With that comes making more opportunities for people coming behind me showing that Howard has the talent to be in the NFL.”

Dankwah, who is a native of Ghana by way of Ontario, Canada, received several honors while at Howard including BOXTOROW All-American and two All-MEAC team selections.

He played in nearly 40 games for the Bison, primarily at the left tackle position, where he led one of the top offensive lines in the MEAC, protecting quarterback Quinton Williams. Off the field, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology and strategic and legal communications.

In an interview with the NFL before the draft, Dankwah spoke on Howard making him feel right at home after moving from Canada. 

Gregory Pugh, a Howard alum and Philadelphia native, believes Eagle fans will welcome him with the same open arms.

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“Eagles fans have a reputation of being a very passionate and devoted fan base and this includes celebrating and criticizing players when they deserve it,” Pugh said. “But being the city of Rocky, we love an underdog and Anim can expect to be a part of that long history of Philly underdogs. He can expect to be supported as if he’s a star QB despite being a lineman and that’s another thing making the city unique.”

When expressing his excitement about the two players getting an opportunity in the NFL, Howard University Athletic Director Kery Davis told The Hilltop, “Ian and Anim are perfect examples of the standard that we always preach. They show that you can do both — be a stud athletically and academically.” 

Davis was optimistic about the possibility of Howard NFL players becoming a trend saying, “Mark my words: next year it’ll be three, four, five guys getting their names called at the draft.”

Both players will begin their NFL journey by reporting to their respective teams’ three-day rookie minicamps, scheduled either for May 3-6 or May 10-13.

Copy edited by D’ara Campbell

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