Philyor seeing what he missed

There’s only one thing Whop Philyor enjoys more than Burger King Whoppers.

That’s football.

So on the eve of Indiana’s first practice of the month, the sophomore slot receiver was giddy in anticipation of his favorite time of year. He cackled at the thought of working in the August heat, of popping on his pads, eluding would-be tacklers and scoring touchdowns with his friends.

“I’m so happy,” Philyor said at the start of camp. “I’m just happy to be playing football.”

Philyor’s enthusiasm was rooted in good reason. After missing the 2017 preseason due to injury, the excitable underclassman reported to camp eager to see what he lost.

Like Philyor, IU’s coaches are enthused at the thought of what a full month of practices can do for their electric playmaker’s upside this season.

“Schematically, he is better,” receiver coach Grant Heard said. “Whop missed all of fall camp last year. We threw him in toward the middle (of the season), and even though he made flashes, he was still learning our offense. Getting to go through a spring and now fall camp, he understands his role. He knows what he’s got to do and what he has to fix, because he knows there’s things he has to clean up. He’s doing an awesome job getting that done.”

Missing last year’s camp nearly had Philyor on track for a redshirt, but injuries elsewhere in IU’s receiving corps forced him into a heightened role by the middle of last season.

With his elite athleticism, Philyor proved he could handle the elevated stage. The Tampa, Fla., native made 33 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns, earning BTN.com Big Ten All-Freshman team recognition.

With extra seasoning this preseason, Philyor wonders what kind of value he’ll be able to squeeze out of his second college campaign.

“I’m learning the plays better,” Philyor said. “Last year, I didn’t really know the plays during the season, so I had to learn them as I went. It’s really helping that I get to learn the plays and be out here with my guys and have fun.”

Through the first week’s worth of practices, Philyor has been one of IU’s top performers.

And, depending on who you ask, he’s the fastest player on the roster.

When informed Friday that defensive assistant Brandon Shelby earlier in the week said freshman cornerback Jaylin Williams was faster, Philyor playfully snapped back.

“Stop playing me like that, Coach Shelby!” Philyor said.

Getting a taste of Big Ten football last season seems to have done the unthinkable for Philyor — making him even more confident.
It seems no one on IU’s roster is louder, prouder or more exuberant than the 5-foot-11 Philyor. With an extra uptick in self-assurance, Philyor has been one of the players that has most consistently caught the eye of his head coach this month.

“He just flashes,” Tom Allen said. “He can beat you deep. The thing that really jumps out to me is last year I thought he was really quick, but this year, his speed has gotten better. He can run away from people more than he could last year. He’s a legit threat.”

Albeit one who is wrestling with a struggle common among young players. Offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said this week that he wants to see Philyor complement his explosiveness with better consistency.

“He’s learned a lot from last year,” DeBord said. “(Monday) he had a drop or two, and he can’t have that. He’s such an explosive playmaker and when he gets the ball, he’s got to make sure he makes those catches.”

A fast, consistent and confident version of Philyor would, indeed, be a unique weapon for the Hoosiers.

More than a week into his first full college camp, Philyor is raring to show the Big Ten what it can expect from himself and the rest of IU’s receivers this season.

“We’re coming over the top, over everybody’s heads,” Philyor said. “So they better watch out.”

12 comments

  1. It would make IU’s offense much more explosive to not only have Whop healthy this year but to also have Harris healthy and playing more receiver this year. There is a lot to like about this year’s offensive potential but players have to develop the ability to make plays count when given the chance. Playmakers come up with the play when the given the chance especially when the game is on the line IE needed first down or TD. The inability to make critical plays has kept IU from breaking through these past few years.

    Whop is the type of player that can make IU better by his ability and his attitude. I expect he will be a breakout star this season.

    1. V13,
      I have been watching this angle with a great deal of curiosity as well. It would appear there is great potential in the receiving corp this year if they can remain healthy. The real question is which QB is best able to get the ball to them. If passing ability becomes the deciding factor then it would appear to favor Penix. Ramsey is quite accurate, but not as strong an arm and you have to be able to get the ball downfield when needed. Dawkins can get the ball downfield but can he do so accurately?

      A lot of intangibles in this mix and balancing the passing attack with the run game cannot be forgotten either. Receiver development looks like it is going make the QB decision even more interesting.

      1. It’s going to be a really tough call for T.A. I think he’s still leaning Ramsey but to take full advantage of their weapons, Penix should be the trigger man IMO. For it to drag out this far leads me to believe that Penix is still right there and is really making a push for the job. Would I be surprised if Dawkins won the job? No. There’s no doubt that his experience factor plays a big part.

        Once the season starts I’m not a fan of the whole rotating QBs thing at all. Pick a guy and let it play out. If the guy is ineffective, move on to the next one.

  2. it basically comes down to what the BIG ten commentators advise “what kind of offense are you going to be/run”……If you want accuracy and the little 5-6 yard dump pass over the middle that gets your wide receiver killed and the occasional quarterback run up the middle the go with Ramsey….If you want a quarterback that can elude defenders and make things happen with their feet and maybe hit the deep receiver go with Dawkins or Phenix….make a decision and let it play out. After a couple of games the decision will be made, the best quarterback will rise to the top. Lets just hope injuries are at a minimum this year. Most fans are hoping for a breakthrough season this year, hopeful so. Things are setting up very nicely for that possibility with two Big Ten East coaches on administrative leave.

  3. The upside of giving each QB equal snaps while practicing with the first team offense is that they will each be prepared to play if/when one of them goes down with an injury. Since they are all running QBs, chances are each guy will get dinged up sooner or later. If that’s correct, it suggests T.A. has a plan for that attrition, like having a stable of running backs. However, the downside of splitting practice reps equally is that none of the QBs will be completely sharp in the passing game when the season begins. All that suggests T.A. and DeBord are planning to include a heavy dose of QB runs this season. I could see DeBord easily calling 20 plays per game designed for the QB to run the ball or giving the QB the read-option. My guess is that DeBord and T.A. do not believe their O-line and running backs are good enough to allow for high productivity in a traditional running attack or in protecting the QB in the pocket. That’s the value of having quarterbacks that can run; they make up for the offense’s other deficiencies.

    Choosing between Penix and Dawkins, while Penix may have the same or better physical tools and he had a head start in learning the offense during spring camp, I’d have to go with the more physically mature and experienced quarterback, and that is Dawkins. There’s just no substitute for experience. My guess is that if T.A. plans to run the QB as much as I think he dies, the QB depth chart will be Dawkins 1, Penix 2, and Ramsey 3. But obviously, that could be totally wrong.

  4. I don’t need two pages to tell you it’s Dawkins’ job to lose. You don’t transfer as an experienced quarterback from Arizona to Indiana unless …a) you’ve lost your mind…or b) you have been given the starting job until you foul up measurably and repeatedly.

    Will Allen act to his other two qb’s as if this is an equal and open competition? Of course….

  5. PO, coach Allen has said over and over he wants a passer first and runner second. If the offense meets coach Allen’s standards there will be QB runs but not many; only if the defense collapses on the inside runs and leave the flanks uncovered. I think our RBs and OL are good enough to run the ball based on their ability. Add in the threat of QB run and the defense has to stay spread out. Coach DeBord and coach Allen won’t accept not pasing the ball and we could see that last year when Ramsey was in there. Dawkins according to reports is struggling with the drop back pass right now and I could see him, if his struggles continue, playing part time. I really like Dawkins maturity and demeanor and could see him starting because of this leading ability. Ramsey is improved, by all reports I see, with a stronger arm than last year.

    The QB question comes down to the player that makes the offense most dangerous for defenses. One of them will be most likely to win a close game and that QB should be the starter. All three QBs have been measured at 22 MPH so there is no real speed difference but there may be a difference ability to make defenders miss. I think people down on Ramsey are making a mistake. I don’t think he is the most dynamic of the three but I wouldn’t be shocked if he wins the job or if either of Penix or Dawkins wins the job.

    1. V13,
      I only have one question on Ramsey and that is does he have enough arm strength to get the ball far enough downfield enough to stretch the defense? If these reports are correct IU maybe has some serious receiver speed. Can Ramsey get the ball to them deep enough to be considered a threat? A serious deep threat combined with multiple other capabilities does change a defensive strategy.

      For HC, I agree with you that Ramsey is a very good decision maker, but I don’t know if I can say he is the best as we haven’t seen either Dawkins or Penix in competition yet. We are assuming PR’s experience will give him the upper hand, but I am wondering if Penix may fool us all with his ability to pick things up so quickly. At least according to early reports, he was a quick learner, but does that translate into good decisions? You guess is as good as mine.

      1. He has plenty of arm strength and now with a years experience in his head and exceptional accuracy #’s for a 1st year QB in his column he has the confidence to expand his game.

  6. Hoosier fans this is simply indicative of where IU football is in development process including quarterback position. What is T.A. to do? This has often been the case at IU. It is similar even at their talent levels at OSU, Mich, Purdue, N.D., Bama, and many many others. So what is the big deal? Hopefully, for IU it won’t take half the season to get it’s best strategy in place.

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