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Indiana football 2020 position preview: The wide receivers

The Daily Hoosier is previewing each position group during the final days leading up to the opening kickoff of the 2020 Indiana University football season on October 24 against Penn State in Bloomington.

Today we take a look at the wide receivers.


Indiana returns one of its top playmakers from the 2019 season along with a solid supporting cast at wide receiver.

The group appears primed to give quarterback Michael Penix plenty of strong options as the offense looks to build on a breakout 2019 campaign, but the Hoosiers will need a couple players to step up and assume bigger roles.

WHO IS GONE

Indiana lost two key veterans form the 2019 squad to eligibility.  Nick Westbrook is now with the Tennessee Titans, and Donaven Hale graduated with a liberal studies degree.

THE 2020 ROSTER

RETURNING WITH EXPERIENCE

Whop Philyor is the headliner in the receiver room.  The senior wideout was named second-team All-Big Ten and IU’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year after compiling 70 receptions for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns.  Philyor enters 2020 with 126 receptions, 1,572 yards, nine touchdowns, six 100-yard games and five double-digit catch games.

Ty Fryfogle has been steady playing in the shadows over the last three seasons.  He caught 45 passes for 604 yards and three TDs in 2019 and his numbers have progressed each season.  With plenty of attention directed at Philyor, Fryfogle is a candidate to have a big season.

Miles Marshall progressed nicely as a redshirt freshman, snaring 16 receptions for 196 yards and one touchdown, including four catches against Purdue.  Marshall gives Penix a big target and is another candidate for a major jump in 2020.

David Ellis is listed as a running back on the roster but he was shown as Philyor’s backup on the depth chart.  The safe bet is that the dynamic athlete will be used all over the field.

NAMES ON THE RISE/IMPACT NEWCOMERS

Da’Shaun Brown is a former high school quarterback.  He didn’t play in 2019 but has worked his way up the depth chart and could help IU add some interesting wrinkles to their offense.

Javon Swinton is a true freshman that garnered significant praise during fall camp.  He is already high on the depth chart and appears certain to play this year.

Jacolby Hewitt has recovered from knee surgery that cost him the 2019 season.  He appears likely to finally see the field after redshirting in 2018.

David Baker is a true freshman from Indianapolis that has garnered a mention from Tom Allen during fall camp and will look to work his way up a crowded depth chart.

Rashawn Williams is a true freshman and was one of highest ranked recruits of all-time.  With elite quickness, it will be a surprise if he doesn’t get a shot in 2020.

Jordan Jakes is IU’s tallest wide receiver and could provide a valuable weapon for Penix as he continues to develop.

Luke Shayotovich is a walk-on, but Tom Allen went out of his way to mention his efforts at fall camp.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Whop Philyor on his chemistry with Michael Penix —

“It has not really been that bad [to get the chemistry right again] because we always found the time for us to get a little bit of work in, Philyor said.  “We found places to get in and throw so we could all create chemistry. Not just with Mike, but with Dexter Williams II and Jack Tuttle as well. We found time all of the time so we could all get the chemistry down. You never know, Mike went down last year. God forbid that happens again, but the next guy has to come up. I could go down, Fry could go down. Everyone has to be ready, so we all have to work on the chemistry together.”

Offensive coordinator Nick Sheridan on Ty Fryfogle and Miles Marshall —

“I think each player is different, for sure. I think they bring a level of consistency and a level of dependability,” Sheridan said.  “They both have been out there in big moments and performed. They both have been very solid and productive and we are looking forward to them having a big year for us. Both of them have been great.”

Receivers coach Grant Heard on Javon Swinton —

“The biggest thing is that he is a smart kid,” Heard said.  “He has come in and picked up the offense. He has his freshman moments where it starts to pile up on him quickly, but for the most part he knows what to do. We are trying to clean up some of his technique and trying to get him to understand that the pace of the game he is about to get into is a lot different from what he had in Virginia. He has the ability to make plays. It is not always pretty, but he finds a way to get to the ball and he has really good hands. We are trying to get him to understand the pace of the game, how physical the Big Ten can be, and as he progresses, I think that he is going to be really, really good.”

THE OUTLOOK

Philyor is going to attract a lot of attention from opposing defensive coordinators in 2020.  That will put a premium on the ability of everyone else to make plays.

Fryfogle, Marshall and Ellis have all already shown that ability — and all three likely have a next level that we haven’t seen to this point.

Penix has the arm talent to make everyone in the room look better on his own.  IU’s receiver group isn’t big, but they have several quick athletes that should be able to win one-on-ones.

The emergence of young players like Brown, Swinton and Hewitt makes it look all the more promising that the necessary one or two breakout seasons will happen.


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