Andrew Ankrah’s story started much later than the typical road to the NFL. In fact, Ankrah didn’t even venture onto a football field until his freshman year at Quince Orchard High School. Until his older brother Jason gave him the push to play, football wasn’t prominent in his life.
Years later, Ankrah found himself sitting in the front office of the Washington Redskins with a contract on the table and a pen in his hand. On April 8, 2019, Andrew Ankrah became a Redskins linebacker.
It didn’t take long for Ankrah to make a splash at QO on the field. Of course, he was the younger brother of elite defensive end Jason Ankrah, who played his college ball at Nebraska and professionally with both the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, so the Ankrah name was well established in Montgomery County. But with his big size and big personality, Andrew Ankrah quickly claimed his own spotlight.
Graduating from QO in 2013, Ankrah headed to James Madison University to join its budding football program. He and the Dukes won a Division 1-AA National Championship his junior year. The team went back to the championship the following year, but they came up short. By this time, Ankrah was on the radar as a high-level linebacker and defensive end winning multiple awards, including the FCS ADA Defensive Player of the Year.
It was a smooth ride for Ankrah through college until he graduated in 2018. Then the journey got a bit bumpier. Nagging injuries kept Ankrah out of opportunities with NFL teams, and his chances were becoming fewer. “It was hard for me out of college,” Ankrah explained. “It was hard to get into camp with injuries, but Jason told me to keep my head and stay focused.”
That advice from older brother Jason definitely paid off. Ankrah got a shot with the Orlando Apollos in the AAF league and needless to say, the spotlight was back on. In his one year in Orlando, Ankrah distinguished himself as one of the leader pass rushers in the entire AAF, drawing attention from his hometown Washington Redskins.
It only took two days after the AAF shut down for Ankrah to receive his call from the Redskins. “It meant the world to me,” Ankrah said. “Playing ball growing up everybody watched the NFL, dreams about the NFL.”
Ankrah is looking forward to playing for the Redskins, but there is much more to this dream than football. “There are so many ways to use this platform to impact people’s lives while chasing your dreams,” he said. He attributes his eagerness to give back and to inspire the next generation to his time in the QO community. “I know I had the greatest support coming out of Quince Orchard,” he said. “I went through it with great coaches who saw the best in me.”
His advice to the youth is simple: “Take to heart what your coaches, teachers and counselors are saying. It may just be a friend’s mom and dad, but listen to what they have to say to change your lives. I had that throughout my life and in high school, had people in my corner—keep them close to you.”