Abby Atwater

Ishmael Joins Desir On The Field For The Orange

Created on Apr. 10, 2014 8:24 PM EST

Steve Ishmael will be joining high school buddy Ritchy Desir on the field at Syracuse this summer. Both will be competing for big positions for the Orange.

When making the decision of where to play ball, Ishmael said Desir answered all of his questions, while remaining respectful of the recruiting process. The opportunity to play early was appealing to Ishmael and Syracuse’s passing game needs someone who can make plays in order to improve last year's 7-6 record.

Although the duo only played for a one season together at North Miami Beach High, they are very close, and have their best memories together on the field.

Come August, Ishmael will be doing what he set out to do as a freshman in high school: Prove his athleticism. 

High school coach Jeff Bertani compared Ishmael to Larry Fitzgerald and Cris Carter, raving about Ishmael's body control and the skills he used to catch 71 passes for 1,007 yards and 16 touchdowns despite constant double teams. But Ishmael always was the quiet, humble kid in high school. Even while receiving continuous recognition and high fives in the hallway, Ishmael remains humble. He ate his lunch alone in the football locker room, avoiding the busy cafeteria. His confidence was never mistaken for cockiness.

So, how did the quiet kid get himself initial playing time? The story goes like this: It's a playoff game and Ishmael's first season at NMB. Coach Bertani called a pass play with Ishmael on the field. An assistant warned Bertani that an inexperienced freshman was on the field for a critical play. Bertani told the assistant he was not worried, even after a timeout that allowed coach time to reconsider.

"I couldn't go back on what I said because I'd look like a fool," Bertani said. "I had a ninth-grader in the game for a huge play. I go up to Steve and say, 'Steve, you've got to make a play, bro.'"

Ishmael caught the pass, ensuring a spot in Bertani's lineup for the rest of his career and helping NMB to a playoff win. However, it was just a few words that set the tone for the rest of his career.

"Coach," Ishmael said, "No problem.”

All quotations were taken from

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