Impressive numbers earn Germany’s Aaron Donker a spot in the NFL International Player Pathway Program

The numbers are head turning.

6’2″, 240 pounds, 4.46 40-yard dash

No, these are not the combine numbers from the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry.

They belong to the 25-year-old German native Aaron Donkor. With these impressive numbers, Donkor might have a chance to tackle Henry as he has just been announced as part of the NFL’s 2020 International Pathway Program giving him a chance to strap it up against the best of the best from across the world.

Needless to say, Donkor is pumped about his selection:

“I am excited about being selected. It feels like a second chance to showcase my talent. It’s like my hard work is finally paying off. I thank God that He made a way.”

Aaron Donkor’s eye popping combine results are certainly a factor for his selection in this year’s NFL International Player Pathway Program. The elite combination of his size and speed made international scouts turn their heads and double check their times. The Göttingen native’s 39-inch vertical and 22 reps on the bench were on par or better than many NFL linebackers at last year’s NFL combine. The selection process has been different than in years past, but Donkor is taking it one step at a time.

“The IPP process has been great. I have been taking it one day at a time. It must be challenging with the Covid-19 situation to organize, but the communication has been excellent, and I am looking forward to working with all the coaches and other players.”

Donkor’s size and speed doesn’t just flash in shorts or combine drills. The newest member the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program spent the 2019 season playing NCAA D1 football at Arkansas State. During his first season of college football, Donkor contributed 25 tackles in only six games for the Red Wolves. Unfortunately, he only spent one year at Arkansas State due to the Co-vid 19 pandemic.

Donkor is deeply appreciative of his short but valuable Division I college football experience.

“My experience at Arkansas felt like it was over before I got going. But I enjoyed and learned a lot at Arkansas State for the time I was there. I meet great people and I had a great coach with Brandon Joiner. Overall, I grew a lot with being at Arkansas State.”

Aaron Donker was a promising basketball player before moving to football

Before moving to the States, Donkor grew up playing basketball in Göttingen before moving to Aachen to train with his mentor Chris Mohr. In 2016, at the late age of 21, the basketball player opted for the gridiron joining the Düsseldorf Panther football club of the German Football League. It’s safe to say it didn’t take him long to adjust to the new sport,. In his first year of football, Donkor led the German Football League with 14 sacks, while totally 74 tackles, and 20 tackles for a loss. This impressive season led the former hooper to connect with Gridiron Imports, an organization dedicated to helping athletes find their way to US schools and headed up by former German NFL player Björn Werner and Chris Adamson. He landed at a junior college, New Mexico Military Institute.

“I led the GFL in sacks back in 2016. I put some tape together. With the help of Björn Werner, Gridiron Imports made the connection to New Mexico Military Institute. I am very thankful for the coaches Joe Forchtner and Kurt Taufaasau, who have given me a scholarship with limited football experience.”

The former Düsseldorf Panther played two seasons for New Mexico Military Institute, over five thousand miles from home in Germany. During his time as a Bronco, Donkor was named a Junior College All-American after his phenomenal 2018 season which included a staggering 27 tackles, and 11.5 sacks in only four games.

Donkor is excited about the chance to continue chasing his dream of the NFL. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of other German NFL players such as Jakob Johnson, Björn Werner, and Sebastian Vollmer. He looks forward to helping grow the budding development of German-born players entering the NFL.

“It’s an honor to represent Germany. Being the only German selected this year and seeing how successful German players have been in the IPP, I plan to take full advantage of this opportunity.”

Alex Malchow
Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football stories from across the globe.
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