Every summer it’s fun scrolling through the timeline on Twitter for which college football player has the best name for the 2021 NFL Draft. Plenty of people will say that it’s Auburn defensive back Smoke Monday. Totally fine and that name is totally badass. However, for me it’s Whop Philyor of Indiana.
Started researching players for next years draft class and by far, the two best names are on the Indiana Hoosiers.
WR1 Whop Philyor
WR3 Ty Fryfogle
Philyor had 70 receptions for over 1,000 yards in 2019. Fryfogle had 45 receptions for 604 yards in 2019.
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) April 28, 2020
Earning the nickname “Whop” from his parents for his love of Whoppers from Burger King, it’s something that stuck for the talented wide receiver out of Tampa, Florida. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to him than just the name. Coming out of Plant High School, Philyor was a three-star recruit. He had offers to schools such as Arizona and Virginia Tech. Ultimately, he took a visit to Indiana and five days later he committed to the Hoosiers. I’m not sure what influenced to sign with them but maybe it was the campus or competing in the Big Ten. Personally, I think it’s the fact that he gets to work with one of the most underrated wide receiver coaches in the country Grant Heard.
Heard is the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Hoosiers. He was the all-time leader in receptions for Ole Miss when he stopped playing for Rebels in 2000 with 142 receptions. That record has since been broken by players that he’s coached at Ole Miss such as Laquon Treadwell, Evan Engram and Donte Moncrief. Regardless of the records, Heard has coached some talented players in his career and Philyor has easily entered his name into that mix.
Since their arrival to Indiana together in 2017, Philyor has compiled 1,824 receiving yards on 147 receptions with 10 touchdowns. With three games played in his senior season, he’s already recorded 21 receptions for 252 yards and a touchdown. There’s five more games left for him to play but he’s helped get the Hoosiers ranked as a top-10 team in the country for the first time since 1969.
Philyor’s body of work has proven his recognition as a next-level receiver.
Designed screen and plenty of YAC
Philyor actually runs track and field for Indiana. In February of 2020, he ran the 60-meters in 7.18 seconds at the 2020 Meyo Invitational. According to a forum I was reading, it uses a multiplier of 0.6096 to convert the 60-meters to the 40-yard dash, which would estimate Philyor to run the sprint in 4.37 seconds. That looks fairly accurate when watching the 5-foot-10 and 180-pound receiver.
So far this season, 103 yards of his 252 receiving yards have come after the catch. Six of his receptions have come on screen passes (per SIS) with 51 yards happening after-the-catch. Using designed screens and having the ability to make defenders miss in space, there’s plenty of reason to believe that these type of numbers will increase on the shortened Big Ten season and will translate to the NFL. On the play above, you can see how Philyor steps off the line of scrimmage, secures the designed screen and gets two blocks on the outside to give himself additional yardage.
Jump ball in the red zone
When the Hoosiers get into the red zone, they love to utilize some of their other weapons. Those being tight end Peyton Hendershot and their other wide receiver, Ty Fryfogle. As for Philyor, he’s got four targets with three receptions for 17 yards and a touchdown (per Sports Info Solutions).
Watching the play above, you can see Philyor getting his first touchdown of the season and it came during one of the most crucial moments of the game against Penn State. This touchdown put the Hoosiers in position to either tie the game or take the lead. It’s a simple fade route by the talented wide receiver and Penix Jr. puts it in a spot for Philyor to high point the ball and haul it in for the touchdown. Big plays like this will help plenty of young quarterbacks in the NFL.
Attacking the middle of the field
Against Michigan, Philyor had 11 receptions for 79 yards and a long reception of 22 yards. Not only was he catching screen passes or just running underneath linebackers, he was also used quite a bit in the middle of the field. With the speed that he possesses and the fluidity within his routes, it’s easy to see why the Hoosiers use him across the middle of the field.
On the play above, it’s third-and-11 for the Hoosiers and they need a big time first down. It’s exactly what they get with a strong throw from quarterback Penix and Philyor hauling in the catch. It’s a post route over the middle, and despite having two defenders coming up to hit him, Philyor does a great job at the catch point and shows his toughness. This is a catch you see from wide receivers on Sunday and with plenty of these on tape, we should be seeing him doing this soon enough for an NFL team.
Lastly, there’s another good pitch and catch for the Philyor and the Hoosiers. On 2nd-and-9, they just need positive yardage but they get that and the first down. Philyor runs a slant route and despite the safety coming downhill on him, he’s still able to secure the catch and avoid the initial tackler. This type of effort and catch will get plenty of teams excited.
It’s hard to imagine Philyor in the same conversation as JaMarr Chase, LSU, or Rashod Bateman, Minnesota, at the top of the draft boards for wide receiver. The senior wide receiver could do himself a favor by showcasing his skills at the 2021 Senior Bowl but with COVID-19, there’s a lot of uncertainty with what events we’ll see this winter.
Regardless of what happens, Philyor has quietly put himself in the top-75 conversation for the 2021 NFL Draft. From his overall production the last two seasons and the athletic ability, there’s reason to believe that wide receiver needy teams will covet a player of his skillset. Whether it be helping a young quarterback evolve or by pairing up with one of the leagues best wide receivers, there’s plenty of fits for him at the next level. Teams such as the New York Giants, New York Jets or Green Bay Packers would all be ideal landing spots.