North Miami Beach (Fla.) High wide receiver Steve Ishmael was one of the most highly regarded prospects in Syracuse's 2014 class. Unbeknownst to most, he played his senior season with a torn meniscus.
After the season, he had surgery to repair the injury. Over the last few months, he has been rehabbing in order to get ready to contribute to the Orange during his freshman campaign.
"My rehab has been great," Ishmael said. "My leg feels great. I'm at about 93%. I can bend it all the way; there's just a little pain when I bend it. I feel like I can play on it already. I should be 100% when I get up there on the 27th (of June)."
"I've been doing a bit of everything. Right now there's no pain when I make my cuts. I do a lot of speed work drills and it feels normal. It's just when I bend it all the way it has a little bit of pain. It feels a lot better for sure. I could definitely play on it."
Despite his injury, he still had a strong senior year. He lacked that elite explosiveness, however, due to the impairment. That explosiveness has returned throughout his rehab.
"My explosion is coming back a lot," Ishmael said. "I can get in and out of my cuts a lot quicker now. I can cut off of my left leg better than the my last season when I had my torn meniscus. It feels a lot better now. It feels more stable. I can move a lot better to get up the field vertically."
Ishmael and fellow Syracuse signee Alin Edouard are in constant communication. Steve's injury has prevented the two from working out together, but they plan to do so in the near future.
"We haven't got to throw yet," Ishmael said. "We talk almost every day about the playbook. We talk about school and just finishing everything up now so we can get ready for Syracuse. We're going to meet up sometime this week or early next month and get some throwing in."
Offensive coordinator and Ishmael's primary recruiter, George McDonald, has also continued the line of communication with the three-star prospect. He believes he will be ready to start his college career next month, though admits there will be some apprehension.
"Coach McDonald has been in touch with me ever since signing day," Ishmael said. "He texts me, he came down to see me and give me everything I need to get ready. I think I'll be on point.
"I'm ready but I'm still a little nervous. Just leaving my family and most importantly my church. I'll see a lot of different faces. I'll miss my family and I'll miss my church, but I feel like the Lord is going to help me get through it. I feel real comfortable going into Syracuse."