Coach Speak: Steve Ishmael

What exactly is Syracuse getting on three-star wide receiver Steve Ishmael? We spoke to his high school head coach, Jeff Bertani, to find out.

Steve Ishmael gave Syracuse another offensive weapon in the 2014 class. spoke to North Miami Beach head coach Jeff Bertani to find out exactly what the Orange are getting in the three-star receiver.

"He's a really good kid," Bertani said. "He's a legit 6-foot-2. He's about 180 with us is what he kind of played with. He's got real long arms and can get his hands in the air it's really attack the ball. With his size he's still very acrobatic because he made a lot of tough catches for us. I don't think he gets the credit for being as fast as he really is. I don't know if it's what he looks like on film or playing the people down here in South Florida.

"He has a reputation of being a possession receiver which I think is a little misleading. He's just a real big tough all around threat kind of a guy. We used him on a lot of seam routes and other things down the field and like I said, when the ball is in the air he's going to get it."

Though elite speed has been the thing about which most criticize Ishmael, Bertani believes that is overblown.

"That's been the one thing that's a knock on him," Bertani said. "He's a legit 4.5 kid. We timed him and he's been times over and over he's a legit 4.5 kid. Especially when we play the better teams. When we played the Miami Central and those type of teams he had his best games. We do with the defense gives us. If they play off of them were going to throwing on some drags underneath. If they press him we're going to go down the field.

"He hasn't really had the opportunity to to really run by people because for three years he's been respected and doubled and played off coverage. When he gets the college and he has those three meals and gets in that weight program which is probably a little bit better than we run, you're going to see the speed come out and I think he's going to do a phenomenal job of matching up with anybody."

Does Ishmael have the ability to contribute at Syracuse right away?

"He's not going in planning on starting," Bertani said. "He would love to, but he just wants a chance to compete. That competition is going to make him work even harder.

"Physically, he's got the skills. He's only going to get bigger and put on more weight which will help him. But I think he has the mentality to come any compete right away which a lot of people don't."

Ishmael was given some lofty comparisons by his head coach. If he is accurate, he should have quite a career with the Orange.

"I want to say a little bit like Amari Cooper from Alabama," Bertani said. "Or maybe a Sammy Watkins from Clemson. The reason I say that is because he can do all of those types of things. He can run all the routes he can go after the deep ball. And I don't think Amari gets enough credit for running good routes and that's something Steve can do. Steve gets open by running phenomenal routes and that's something people are going to see too.

"Going into the offense he's going to play in, you have to be disciplined. Steve is disciplined and every route that he runs. I don't want to say Calvin Johnson because I don't think that's fair to anybody. It's because he's a big receiver and he can do everything but I don't want him to get labeled like that."

Bertani also believes Ishmael has the potential to develop into an NFL type of talent.

"I'm pretty lucky in that I've had four players go to the NFL," Bertani said. "Steve is more developed at a young age than any of those guys. He's a kid that doesn't drop passes. If you throw him the ball you expect him to catch it.

"He's also elusive after the catch and has that speed that I don't think people know about. So he could put up some big numbers."

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