Fryfogle at ease in Indiana offense

When receivers coach Grant Heard left Ole Miss for Indiana, he took a recruiting target with him.

Ty Fryfogle first caught Heard’s attention as a high school sophomore, performing well in front of the coach at a camp as his recruitment was just taking off. That led Heard to pursue the Lucedale, Miss. native as a target for the Rebels, offering Fryfogle a scholarship ahead of his senior year in July 2016.

By the end of that fall, Heard was on the move as one of the first additions to coach Tom Allen’s new staff at Indiana. One of his initial orders of business was making a phone call back to the south.

“When he took the job, he called me and said he’d went to Indiana,” Fryfogle recalled. “I was like, ‘Let me come up on a visit up there.’ He said, ‘Are you serious?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘It’s really cold up here.’”

That’s no matter.

Entering his second year in Bloomington, Fryfogle is settling in nicely. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound receiver has asserted himself as a trusted and reliable target inside Indiana’s offense, providing both versatility and steady hands when called upon.

“He was raw coming out of high school, just because of where he came from,” Heard said. “But I knew, athletically, he had it in him to be a good player. Just through his hard work, he’s turning out to be a really good player.”

Fryfogle enters this week’s game against Penn State ranked second on IU’s team with 238 yards and third with 21 catches. He was one of the only bright spots in Saturday’s loss to Iowa, making four receptions for a career-best 71 yards and one touchdown.

Through seven games, Fryfogle is proving to be one of the most dependable passing options in the IU offense. He’s caught 77.8 percent of the balls thrown his way, posting one of the highest catch rates among IU’s receivers and developing into one of the Hoosiers’ most efficient receivers.

“I take a lot of pride in that,” Fryfogle said.

At George County High School, Fryfogle didn’t play in a pass-happy system until his senior year when he led his team with 89 receptions for 1,432 yards and 14 touchdowns. So his first objective at Indiana was learning how to become a better, more consistent route runner.

Last fall, he operated mostly in the background, appearing in eight games with one catch for 13 yards.

“He had to get comfortable in the offense, get comfortable being this far from home,” said Heard, who played with Fryfogle’s father, Trey, at Ole Miss in the early 2000s. “Now, after that first year’s over, he knows the offense, he knows what to expect in practice. He’s used to not being at home. He’s just comfortable. He can just cut loose and play fast.”

And play wherever he’s asked.

When fellow receivers Luke Timian and Whop Philyor suffered injuries at the start of Big Ten season, IU increased J-Shun Harris’ workload in the slot. As extra help, Heard moved Fryfogle there, as well.

Fryfogle appeared at slot during both the Rutgers and Ohio State games, catching at least two of the eight combined passes he hauled in during that two-game span playing inside.

“His confidence is continuing to grow,” quarterback Peyton Ramsey said. “Having played inside and outside receiver now, just his total understanding of our scheme and of our offense has grown and I think that’s giving him a lot of confidence and it’s allowing him to play fast because his athletic ability is off the charts. He’s just starting to bring it all together now.”

Fryfogle and Ramsey connected for one of the Hoosiers’ few highlights against the Hawkeyes, a 33-yard touchdown reception that brought IU within 14-10 early in the second quarter.

“I just saw him really take a step forward this week,” offensive coordinator Mike DeBord said. “He played a lot better and made some (plays). That (TD) was a great catch. It was a 50/50 ball that he came up with. So we’re really encouraged with where he is right now.”

The feeling is mutual with Fryfogle, who is similarly comfortable with where he stands.

“He’s just an old country boy from Mississippi,” Heard said

One who doesn’t mind a little Midwestern chill.

“It took me a while to adjust to the cold weather,” Fryfogle said. “But it’s cool, now.”