When Dino Babers took over the head coaching job from Scott Shafer, he promised to bring a fast and exciting offense to the Carrier Dome. He brought with I’m a history of working on high-powered offense with great quarterbacks and even better wide receivers. At his first National Signing Day press conference as head coach, he called his wide receivers his “babies”. Well, for the second straight year, one of his babies is being recognized on the national stage.
Steve Ishmael, who leads the nation in receptions, was named to the AP 2nd team, mid-season, All-American team. The first team consisted of Oklahoma State’s James Washington and West Virginia’s David Sills V. Sure one can argue that Ishmael belongs on the first team, but the most important thing here is yet another Syracuse wide-out is putting up crazy numbers in his final season, and getting national recognition.
Last season grad-transfer Amba Etta-Tawo hauled in 94 receptions for just under 1500 yards and 14 touchdowns. Incredible numbers, especially when you consider that his career high was 222 yards prior to last season. So what exactly is in the water in Syracuse that turns good wide receivers into absolute studs?
Well, in the case of Steve Ishmael, he has always had this ability. If you look at him, he looks like an NFL wide receiver. He is 6-2, 210 pounds and has speed and athleticism. Couple that with the fact that he has a healthy Eric Dungey throwing him the ball and he is playing in the second year of a new, high-powered offense, you get the crazy numbers that Ishmael is posting week in and week out. It is important to mention that Ishmael has had his biggest and best games on the biggest stages. He had 11 catches for 123 yards in Death Valley against LSU and though he “only” had six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the huge upset win over Clemson, he was arguably Syracuse’s best player outside of Eric Dungey.
The best and most encouraging thing about Ishamel’s recognition is that it is evidence that Babers has, at least or far, delivered on his promise to bring a new era of fast, high-powered football to the Carrier Dome. The question remains though, who will be the next wide receiver to dazzle?