When Plant High School seniors commit to colleges, they don’t switch.
In the last 13 years, only one Plant senior has flipped his commitment to a different school. That one senior is 4-star ESPN Top 300 athlete Juwan Burgess, who switched his commitment from Southern California to IU last week.
While waffling on his commitment to the Trojans, Burgess visited Bloomington with teammate De’Angelo “Whop” Philyor on Jan. 13 and was immediately impressed, Philyor said.
Philyor, a 6-foot, 175-pound speedster, committed to the Hoosiers on Jan. 18, and Burgess followed his teammate the day after.
“Juwan is the one that kind of talked me into committing,” Philyor said. “We wanted to go to a place where we’d be comfortable, and he’s like, ‘It’s the place to be, man.’”
Philyor said they were initially impressed with the family-oriented atmosphere IU Coach Tom Allen and his coaching staff delivered to recruits and exuded in everyday activities.
Both players really liked Allen as the head coach, Philyor said. Former IU head coach Kevin Wilson was a “hard person,” but Allen was more intimate and preached love.
“The morning after Coach Allen was named the new head coach, I saw it on the news and was like, ‘I might take this chance,’” Philyor said.
No one could blame the playmaker.
He and Burgess had already been talking to Allen for two years, dating back to when he was the defensive coordinator at South Florida, and Allen’s son — 3-star linebacker Thomas Allen — was attending Plant and had already committed to play for his dad.
IU offensive coordinator Mike DeBord told Philyor that he could play running back, slot receiver, outside receiver and other dynamic positions in the IU offense — an offense that is on the verge of major philosophical changes.
On his visit, Philyor even got some input from junior quarterback Richard Lagow.
“He said if you want to be in a place where the whole town can know you, this is the place to be,” Philyor said.
Plant head coach Robert Weiner said it’s easy to send three of his own players to Bloomington because he knows Allen’s values and saw the immediate difference his coaching style made to the IU defense in 2016.
Since it’s easy to see a program from the outside in, Weiner said he always asks his players after visits how they saw the program from the inside out — if they could see themselves wearing the school’s uniform.
Philyor, Burgess and Allen all emphatically answered yes.
“They loved Indiana,” Weiner said. “When you get one of our guys — our guys talk. They want to go where their brothers are.”
It’s not the first time Weiner has sent multiple athletes from the same team to one school. In 2009, captain quarterback and Georgia legend Aaron Murray committed to Georgia and was followed by tight end Orson Charles, much like Thomas Allen’s commitment to IU and his teammates following.
Allen was a co-captain — Burgess being the other co-captain — on a Plant team that finished second in the state of Florida in the 7A Division. He also talked to his teammates like he was their father, Weiner said. He was the team’s leader.
Allen is already on campus and signed his letter of intent, while his teammates will wait to sign their letters until National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
Philyor said he is ready and that he wouldn’t be surprised if Burgess is ready to get to Bloomington, too.
“We’re coming to make it Tampa,” Philyor said. “We’re gonna ball out.”
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