The Unknown Draft Pick: Kemal Ishmael to the Atlanta Falcons

By Leigh Allen
Kemal Ishmael Atlanta Falcons
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the controversy about what really happened when Kemal Ishmael committed to Western Michigan and ended up signing with the University of Central Florida, his ultimate goal of making it to the NFL has been realized…thanks to the Atlanta Falcons.

Ishmael exploded onto the college scene as a true freshman in 2009, logging an astounding 70 tackles in his 13 games. In October of that year, he achieved 11 of those tackles in one game. In 2010, he started in all 14 games and totaled a team-high 93 tackles; again, one game generated 11 tackles. His efforts were rewarded that year when he was named to the All-Conference USA First Team. Ishmael’s numbers dropped only slightly in his junior year, but the performance remained outstanding for 2011. In fact, he beat his own record when he logged 15 tackles in one game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His 2011 efforts garnered only an Honorable Mention for the All-Conference USA, which was a bit surprising considering his endeavors for the year.

By far, Ishmael’s greatest season was his senior year. He recorded an astonishing 124 tackles, 14 of which were recorded during the Conference USA Championship Game. When the team played the University of Southern Mississippi in October, he intercepted a pass during the second (yes, second) overtime, scoring a touchdown and the first overtime victory in UCF’s history. The awards were many in 2012, including Most Valuable Player, Outstanding Defensive Back, Outstanding Defensive Player, and a Captain’s Award…and that was just at the UCF Football Awards Banquet. The Conference USA head coaches voted him the Defensive Player of the Year, and as expected, he made the All-Conference USA First Team.

Though Ishmael’s name hasn’t been that well-known to the fans to this point, it won’t be long until he’s a household name to Falcons fans and NFL fans alike. Count on it.


Leigh Allen is an NFL Atlanta Falcons writer for Follow her on Twitter, on Facebook, and on Google+.

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