Hillsborough High School football star Thomas Amankwaa will be traveling down Route 287 to River Road to suit up for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights next fall.
Amankwaa announced last month his verbal commitment to play for Rutgers University after meeting with the head coach of the Scarlet Knights, Greg Schiano.
Schiano offered Amankwaa a scholarship after the Hillsborough star attended the Rutgers game against the University of Delaware on Sept. 18.
It was a great moment for Amankwaa, whose dream has always been to play college football at the Division I level.
He had been in contact with Schiano and some other coaches of the Rutgers coaching staff this past summer about the possibility of receiving a scholarship from the Scarlet Knights.
When Schiano offered him the scholarship, Amankwaa was thrilled as can be and excited to have the chance to play close to home.
“It means a lot to me and my family to have the opportunity to go to a great school nearby and achieve my dream of playing college football,” Amankwaa said in an exclusive interview. “I’m also excelling in my education at a high-level institution.”
Amankwaa follows in the footsteps of his brother, Charles, who plays Division I football at The University of Akron. His other brother, David, plays for Clarion University at the Division II level.
From their childhood days of playing football in the background, Amankwaa said he has always looked up to his two older brothers who helped him achieve success on the field.
“I’ve learned everything from my brothers and still do,” Amankwaa said. “My brothers have helped me out a lot off the field. We couldn’t be more blessed to continue to play the sports we’ve been playing since we were young.”
Amankwaa has been nothing short of spectacular for the Hillsborough football team this fall on the gridiron.
He’s accounted for 1,099 all-purpose yards and a total of 14 touchdowns to help the Raiders start off the season with a perfect 6-0 mark.
Defensively, Amankwaa has been a shutdown corner for the Raiders with 12 tackles and two interceptions this fall.
Amankwaa had a team-high three interceptions last fall, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He also had two fumble recoveries as a junior.
Accounting for nine touchdowns and 953 all-purpose yards in eight games last season, Amankwaa has already surpassed those marks in his ascent to becoming one of the top all-around high school football players in the state.
He feels his abilities to play multiple positions on offense and defense make him a dynamic player and has helped had great success this season.
“I’m very versatile,” Amankwaa said. “I can play all over the offense and all over the defense. That’s definitely a huge factor in my game.”
Amankwa also said he couldn’t have the success he has had without his coaches and teammates.
It’s been a joy for Amankwaa to have a great senior year with his teammates.
Fellow seniors, Tyler Michinard, Will Dixon and Jay Mazuera have had stellar seasons this fall for the Raiders.
Michinard leads the team in rushing with 498 yards on the ground and has five total touchdowns on the season. He also has 26 total tackles and a sack on defense.
Dixon has 15 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns from his tight end position and leads the team defensively with eight sacks.
Like Amankwaa, Mazuera is having a career year under center for Hillsborough. The senior quarterback has thrown for 993 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mazuera and Amankwaa are tied for a team-high 14 touchdowns this fall.
“I’ve played with the guys in my senior class since I first put on pads,” Amankwaa said. “We all have each other’s backs during football and outside of football. We all push each other to the max when we’re working out and we’re on the football field.”
The ultimate goal for Amankwaa and his teammates this season is to be state champions. Hillsborough already locked up the Big Central Football Conference-5B Division title back on Oct. 1 with a 42-14 victory over Ridge High School.
Amankwaa believes his teammates and himself have the coaches at the helm that can help lead them to a state title and hopes to have a state championship ring on his finger when he attends Rutgers next year.
“Win every game and win a state championship,” Amankwaa said. “That’s the end goal. That’s what we’ve all dreamed of since we were kids. We’re in a position to do so with great coaches and a great community behind us. I think we can do it.”
Hillsborough will next host Old Bridge High School on Oct. 15.