Ismail's decision to skip the recent NFL combines, at which players were tested, timed and measured en masse, may not have damaged his stock, but it probably didn't raise it, either. "I don't see any reason for Mr. Ish-male to go to the combine," says Abram. "What's he going to become, [draft pick] Number 1-A?"
Ismail, wise beyond his years, makes the combines decision sound much more reasonable, much less arrogant. "It's just that I've been concentrating real hard on track lately, plus I've got a ton of classes," he says. Representatives from nearly all the NFL teams will show up at a "private" workout at Notre Dame this week.
Though on the brink of becoming a multimillionaire, Ismail is doing his best to lead the life of an ordinary Notre Dame student. It hasn't been easy. While delivering a recent lecture at Notre Dame's Stepan Center, movie director Spike Lee learned that his audience, some 2,000 strong, did not include Ismail. Lee voiced his disappointment. So a friend of Ismail's sprinted to a phone and called Rocket, who had intended to be at the lecture but had forgotten. Ismail dashed over to Stepan, where, to his mortification, Lee invited him up on stage to the roar of the crowd. There, filmmaker and human highlight film exchanged pleasantries and baseball caps. Then Lee—Mars Blackmon himself—said, loud enough for all of Ismail's fellow students to hear, "You know, Rocket, I'd leave Michael for you."
Take a number, Mars.