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Philyor emerges as reliable receiving target for IU football offense


Sophomore wide receiver Whop Philyor celebrates his touchdown with sophomore quarterback Peyton Ramsey and former IU wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. on Oct. 14. Katie Franke Buy Photos

There are no Publix supermarkets in Indiana, nor are there any Wawa convenience stores.

Simple comforts of home like these are gone for freshman wide receiver Whop Philyor, who made the nearly 1,000-mile trip from Tampa, Florida, to Bloomington to play for IU.

However, Philyor still feels at home with the Hoosiers. 

It was not the best start for Philyor at IU, though. He was limited to begin fall camp after having his knee scoped, and the possibility of a redshirt was on the table for him.

Philyor said that around the second week of fall camp, wide receivers coach Grant Heard pulled him aside and told him a medical redshirt may be an option. This hinged on two factors — the health of IU's receiving corps and the health of Philyor. 

"I have no patience," Philyor said. "I didn't want to redshirt." 

IU's other receivers began to drop like flies. Junior Nick Westbrook tore an ACL on the opening kickoff against Ohio State. Junior Donavan Hale only played three games this season before also being ruled out for the season. 

On Monday, Coach Tom Allen announced junior wide receiver J-Shun Harris II would be out for the season after tearing an ACL for the third time in his IU career.

As all this happened, Philyor regained his fitness.

"I got a little frustrated before, cause like I couldn't run or anything," Philyor said. "Then I like started progressing." 

While he was sidelined, Philyor said he kept mental notes of the plays IU would use each week.

This allowed him to easily get back into the rotation when his health allowed him to return to practice.

"He's stayed the course," Offensive Coordinator Mike DeBord said. "Whop just has so much energy all the time, he's fun to be around."

Allen said the team calls Philyor the Energizer Bunny because of his boundless energy.

The first time he got to display this energy on the field came against Georgia Southern on Sept. 23, but Philyor truly burst onto the scene during IU's last home game against then-No. 17 Michigan.

He recorded an eight-yard touchdown reception with under four minutes to go as part of IU's late comeback against the Wolverines. Then, Philyor had his breakout game this past Saturday with 13 catches, 127 receiving yards and another touchdown in a loss at Maryland.

"Really what I saw Saturday is what I really expected to see out of him this year," Allen said. "His confidence level has increased highly in the area of his execution just because he knows where he's supposed to be and the routes, where the ball is coming."

That breakout performance had its faults. Philyor dropped a pass on 3rd and 10 when the Hoosiers were trying to rally from a three-point deficit late in the fourth quarter against the Terrapins. A catch would have given the Hoosiers a first down and extended the game.

Instead, IU's final pass was short of the line to gain, and the Hoosier offense ended the game with a turnover on downs.

"The thing I love about him is he was really upset about the 14th one that he didn't get on that last drive," Allen said. "Took that one hard."

Confidence has not been an issue with Philyor. 

"Whop came in right off the bat like he knew what to do, how to do it and when to do it," junior wide receiver Simmie Cobbs Jr. said. "He's just a goofy kind of kid."

Cobbs said he wants Philyor to stay level-headed after he makes plays, and to play with confidence and not cockiness. 

Philyor's conviction comes from his family's legacy on the gridiron.

College Football Hall of Fame running back Herschel Walker is a cousin of Philyor's grandmother. Carlton Walker, a former college running back at Wisconsin, is another cousin of Philyor's grandmother.

"Everybody in my family played football," Philyor said.

However, it was Philyor's father Daniel who had the biggest influence on his son's choice to play football.

"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."

His dad is even the reason Philyor goes by the name Whop.

Philyor's given name is Mister Elias De'Angelo Philyor, but he goes by Whop because of his love for Burger King. Philyor visited the fast-food chain with his father so much that a new nickname was born.

Despite his craving for Whoppers, Philyor remained small. That's the way he likes it.

"I'm quicker than most guys, I think it helps me out a lot," Philyor said. "I can get through small stuff, like a mouse."

Only a few months into his college career, Philyor will be relied upon to help carry IU's passing attack down the stretch of the season. It is a responsibility that Allen and company expected him to have.

"I thought he was going to be one of our better players," Allen said. "It's proven to be true. Just took a little time."

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