On Monday, the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation announced its 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award for the sport’s top receiver, regardless of position. Fittingly, that list included Syracuse Orange senior wide receiver Steve Ishmael.
While Syracuse fans have been appreciated Ishmael from the start, the numbers didn’t really back up our praise as much until this year. Through 10 games in 2017, the senior has 92 catches for 1,131 yards and six touchdowns. He’s already tied with Marvin Harrison for the second-highest single-season receiving yards total in school history. And he’s just two behind Amba Etta-Tawo for the most receptions in a season. It’s pretty likely he’ll be the first Orange wideout to catch over 100 passes in a season.
Being named a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist has quickly become the norm for Orange receivers since Dino Babers arrived. This is the second straight season SU will have a player named to the list’s top 10. Amba Etta-Tawo appeared last year as well.
Nationally, Ishmael’s numbers stack up with the best players in the country. His yardage total is third overall, and he’s second in receptions. The touchdown numbers aren’t as high, but it’s unlikely anyone was going to be able to compete with West Virginia’s David Sills V, who has 18 this year.
Along with Ishmael, it’s understandable that we might have wanted to see Ervin Philips on the list this year as well given his own outputs. Philips’s 79 catches are fifth overall, and his yardage total is close to the top 25. However, with a strong group of wideouts this season, and some school redundancy, it would certainly stand to reason the voters tried to spread the love a bit.
Finalists for the award will be determined between November 14 and 19, with the top three announced on November 20. The winner of this year’s Biletnikoff Award will be announced on December 7 at the College Football Awards Show.
Congrats to Steve on a fitting honor to cap off a great career! Hope to see him included in the top three.