Philyor finding home at Indiana

It started at a Burger King.

Daniel Philyor’s son, then age six, craved the chain’s signature sandwich. Soon, a new name was born.

“I used to take him to Burger King, because I like Whoppers, he likes Whoppers,” Daniel said. “He always used to want a Whopper. I was like, ‘Boy, can you handle that big ol’ burger?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, daddy.'”

So Daniel, who also goes by “Big Whop,” nicknamed his son “Little Whop.”

Eventually, the boy whose given name is Mister Elias De’Angelo Philyor became, simply, Whop Philyor.

“It just stuck with him,” Daniel said. “It fits him good.”

Someday, the Indiana freshman receiver may be recognized for more than his unique name and love for fast food. Saturday’s performance at Maryland was a move in that direction.

Philyor, the Big Ten’s co-Freshman of the Week, set an Indiana true freshman record with 13 catches, while posting a career-high 127 yards with one touchdown in last weekend’s loss to the Terrapins.

“I thought he was going to be one of our better players,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said, “and it’s proven to be true.”

Beyond his athletic ability, Philyor possesses a quality often rare in freshmen — confidence.

Lots of it, in fact.

“Whop came in right off the bat like he knew what to do, how to do it, when to do it,” IU receiver Simmie Cobbs said. “That’s what he came in with.”
Because he had to.

At 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Philyor is not imposing. But what he lacks in physical stature, he makes up for with speed and the unwavering belief that he belongs.

He thanks his dad for that.

“My dad always told me, ‘You’re the smallest one, so you gotta have the confidence. You gotta have the heart of a lion,'” Philyor said. “So I’ve always had to be tough, because I always was the smallest in my family. … All my cousins are bigger. Every last one of them. My sisters are even bigger than me, and I’m older than all of them.”

Philyor’s confidence manifests in different ways. It’s visible on the field and other places, too.

“He’s always sitting with girls in the Hoosier Room,” said receiver Luke Timian, who rooms with Philyor for road games. “That definitely caught my eye right off the bat. He’s got some confidence in him. He’s got some swag about him.”

He has an impressive pedigree, too.

Herschel Walker is a cousin of Philyor’s grandmother. Another of her cousins, Carlton Walker, played at Wisconsin in the early 1980s.

“I used to tell him all the time,” Daniel said, “it’s in your blood.”
Philyor admits baseball was his first love, but he found a future in football, despite his stature.

“I’m quicker than most guys,” Philyor said. “I think it helps me out a lot. I’m kind of like a mouse.”

Allen saw something special in Philyor while he starred at Tampa, Fla., powerhouse Plant High School alongside Allen’s son, Thomas, now an IU freshman linebacker, and classmate Juwan Burgess, now an Indiana defensive back.

The former three-star recruit was a first-team all-state selection last fall after catching 91 passes for 1,329 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior.

But Philyor’s Hoosier career was slow to start after an injury suffered early in fall camp nearly caused him to redshirt.

Unable to practice for much of August, Philyor fell behind. Midway through camp, IU receivers coach Grant Heard approached the youngster with a plan.

“He was like, ‘I’m gonna have to redshirt you, but if we have some players go down, you might have to play,” Philyor said of his preseason conversation with Heard.
Sure enough, that’s what happened.

Injuries to Nick Westbrook, Donavan Hale and J-Shun Harris thinned IU’s receiving corps, the deepest position in the program entering the season.

Watching Philyor surface last week against Maryland has somewhat eased the burden those losses created.

Philyor will try to replicate last week’s performance on Saturday against No. 4 Wisconsin. The freshman is focused on making a difference in IU’s offense with the remaining opportunities this season will provide.

And when he’s not catching passes, he’s staying true to his name.
Philyor says he “sometimes” visits Burger King when time allows.

So, how often?

“Every Sunday,” he said.

3 comments

  1. Whop has an opportunity to be a special player. He had a great game but missed an opportunity to establish himself as someone to turn to when the game is on the line. He will have many chances in future games and I hope he continues to expand his game.

  2. The “Whop” certainly found a home on a Hoosier team forever flame-broiled?

    Wisconsin game..? Will Don Fischer be prepared when this young man scores a TD?

    “Philyor tummy on a Whop with cheese! Touchdown IU!”

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