Senior Syracuse Orange wide receiver Steve Ishmael has been added to the 2017 Biletnikoff Award Watch List, according to a release from the Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation on Tuesday.
The Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the country’s most outstanding receiver, regardless of position, added 10 players total. However, the headliner is Ishmael, who currently leads the nation in receptions with 45. He’s also third overall in receiving yards at 512. Just four games in, both totals are already nearing career-highs.
Ishmael is the second Orange receiver receiving consideration for this year’s award. Ervin Philips was named to the preseason watch list, coming off a 90-catch performance in 2016. In 2017, Philips has collected 27 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns. The fellow senior is tied for 17th in the country with that catch total.
While this was thought to be a breakout year for Philips -- and it’s still been a great season for him so far — Ishmael’s been the clear focal point of this Syracuse passing game this year. He’s collected eight catches or more in every game so far, including a 14-reception effort vs. Middle Tennessee that tied the school’s single-game record. We always thought Ishmael had the talent to reach this level of success, but offensive schemes failed to give him chances. Now, as the team’s No. 1 option, he’s been able to shine.
The Biletnikoff Award cuts its list to 10 semifinalists on November 13, then the three finalists are announced on November 21. Winners are announced at the College Football Awards on December 7.
As you’ll likely recall, Amba Etta-Tawo made the semifinalist group last season, but didn’t make the cut to the top three.