THE STANDARD

first_img Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment. This is placeholder text Advertisement Published on August 31, 2016 at 8:05 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds Steve Ishmael has become the standard while being one of SU’s only constantscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Steve Ishmael knew he’d have a chance to be a difference-maker as early as his freshman year. He spoke with fellow Syracuse commit, three-star quarterback Alin Edouard, every day. They discussed the possibilities, the untapped potential of the dominant tandem they could be for the SU.Ishmael and Edouard, both Miami natives, visited each other’s houses often. They tossed a football around outside. They fantasized about being the ones to help turn the program around.When Ishmael committed to SU just before signing day in 2014, he mentioned Edouard, four-star wide receiver K.J. Williams and then-offensive coordinator George McDonald as the three people he was most looking forward to teaming up with.Two and a half years later, Ishmael is the only one still at Syracuse. Edouard and Williams didn’t qualify academically and McDonald was fired after the 2014 season. Ishmael has been one of the Orange’s only constants amid constant turnover.“I just want to win games, man,” Ishmael said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse has won only seven games in Ishmael’s career. For a player who’s been one of Syracuse’s best, it’s time to change that.As part of an offensive scheme that is friendlier to wide receiver’s statistics than SU’s style last year, Ishmael has a chance to break out. He said he hasn’t set any personal goals for his junior season, but he used to talk in high school about leaving his mark with the Orange.Through two seasons, he’s racked up 985 yards, 66 catches and 10 touchdowns in all 24 games, despite going through six different quarterbacks and now three different offensive coordinators.,“This year, we’re actually taking chances,” Ishmael said. “I feel like head coach (Dino) Babers, he’s not afraid to do anything so I feel like this year there’s going to be a lot more opportunities.”There’s evidence why Ishmael believes in him. In 2015 alone, Babers’ top three receivers at Bowling Green each had more than 950 yards receiving and 70 catches. Babers has successfully used the scheme as a head coach the past four years.When asked about Ishmael, Babers didn’t comment directly about him, as he has done for most questions about specific players during the preseason.Once Ishmael emerged as a top target early in his career, defenses would roll their coverage toward his side of the field. He occasionally had trouble getting open and making plays. And for some plays Ishmael couldn’t make, he didn’t even know why.Babers’ new staff, which includes wide receivers coach Kim McCloud, is stricter when it comes to route-running technique, Ishmael said. He’s forced to improve, otherwise he’ll hear from coaches.The no-huddle offense means more plays and more chances to catch the ball. The formations Syracuse will run with multiple receivers stacked on one side mean more chances to get free.“I’m just trusting (Babers) when he says that,” Ishmael said, “that everything is going to be smooth in the game, that there’s going to be a lot of opportunities.”,North Miami Beach (Florida) High School head coach Jeff Bertani said college recruiters looking at their wide receivers ask him how players compare to Ishmael — he’s the standard. If anyone comes close to his skillset, recruiters know they can count on that player producing at the next level.Ishmael is considered by his former coaches the best receiver to come out of North Miami Beach. Beginning in his junior year, they molded the offense around his abilities on the perimeter.Though not specifically tailored for Ishmael, he now enters an offense that can maximize the flashes he’s already shown.“I think the country will start to see what Syracuse has already known about Steve,” Bertani said, “how good he truly is.”While at North Miami Beach, Ishmael talked about playing the role of Clemson’s Sammy Watkins while Edouard could mimic former Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd. Last year, Ishmael envisioned being then-West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey while his roommate and SU hybrid Ervin Philips would be former Mountaineers wide receiver Tavon Austin.Neither comparison ever came close.“I feel like I’ve matured mentally,” Ishmael said, “in terms of manning up and taking a lot more things into my hands and growing as a player.”,His growth has been a progression.Ishmael has fully adjusted to watching tape on his own, which he wasn’t used to when he got to Syracuse. He’s more accustomed to the Orange’s opponents, something that can come only with experience. He wears No. 8 because he looked up to former Syracuse great Marvin Harrison. He’s 1,743 receiving yards away from Harrison’s school record with two years of eligibility remaining.Now is Ishmael’s opportunity to carve out his own place.“The chances are going to be out there,” Ishamel said. “It’s just on us to go and grab the ball.”Banner video by Griffin Morrow | Video Editor. Commentslast_img

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