The Daily Hoosier is previewing each position group during the final days leading up to the opening kickoff of the 2021 Indiana football season on Sept. 4 against Iowa.
Today we take a look at the wide receivers.
It is not often a team can say they returned the Big Ten’s receiver of the year, but that is exactly the case as Ty Fryfogle returns for a fifth season in Bloomington.
He is joined by several fellow veterans and an impressive freshman class to form what should be one of the strengths of the team for quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. to target in 2021.
WHO IS GONE
Whop Philyor decided to forego a fifth season and pursue the NFL. He wasn’t drafted but was signed by the Minnesota Vikings and is still working to make the team.
Jordan Jakes and Gary Cooper both transferred out of the program.
THE 2021 ROSTER
RETURNING WITH EXPERIENCE
Ty Fryfogle led the team with 721 yards (4th in the Big Ten), 90.1 yards per game (5th, 29th nationally), seven touchdowns (T-3rd, T-30th) and 19.5 yards per reception (3rd, 23rd). He finished second on the team with 37 catches (T-9th) and 4.6 grabs per game. In addition to being named the Big Ten’s receiver of the year, Fryfogle was a third team All-American.
Miles Marshall finished third on the team with 290 yards on 19 receptions with one touchdown. His 15.3 average per catch ranked second on the team. Marshall has now played in 20 games with eight starts.
Jacolby Hewitt played in all eight games in 2020, his first appearances at IU, and caught five balls for 68 yards.
Javon Swinton appeared in all eight games as a true freshman in 2020 and made his first career start in the Outback Bowl. He caught four passes for 52 yards on the season including a pair of catches for 23 yards in his collegiate debut Penn State.
NAMES ON THE RISE/IMPACT NEWCOMERS
D.J. Matthews is a transfer from Florida State who appears likely to start in the slot. The 23 year-old ranks 10th at FSU with 582 career punt return yards and 56 returns, and he holds two of the top-4 single-game marks. In 35 games (16 starts), Matthews owns 84 receptions for 809 yards and five touchdowns to go along with one punt return TD.
Camron Buckley is a transfer from Texas A&M who had 62 receptions for 877 yards (14.1 average) and four touchdowns in 39 games (4 starts from 2017-20).
Da’Shaun Brown played in two games in 2020 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury.
David Baker was a true freshman in 2020 and had one appearance in the win over Maryland.
Jaquez Smith, Jordyn Williams and Malachi Holt-Bennett are all true freshman, and all three come to the program with strong credentials, all ranked in the top-700 overall in the class. All three showed in fall camp that they are capable of contributing in year one, but in a crowded veteran room their opportunities may be limited in 2021.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Wide receivers coach Grant Heard on what D.J. Matthews Jr. has brought to the offense —
“He is full go. He’s a sharp kid, very intelligent. Good to go with the playbook. Now it’s just more trying to refine some of the stuff and getting it to the way we want it done. Every once in a while, he reverts back to those Seminole ways and so I’ve got to remind him ‘You’re a Hoosier now’ and we do it this way. He’s done awesome. The first day I saw him, he’s done some stuff route wise that they didn’t do over there that he naturally knows how to do so he’s making my job easier.”
Tom Allen on Ty Fryfogle —
“He just goes all out. He is tough, he doesn’t say anything, he just plays football. I appreciate his attitude and his leadership. For a guy that has been here a long time, he came back for the additional year, and he has elevated himself. He has his body in great condition and he has worked his tail off in the weight room and I just love his mindset.”
Miles Marshall on his goal of being the No. 1 receiver —
“I wake up every morning and tell myself I want to be the best receiver on the field. It is no disrespect to Ty [Fryfogle] or anyone else in our group, I just want to be the best receiver on the field. I want to go to the next level and for me to go to the next level, I have to be the best receiver on the field. That is how we compete with each other. Ty wants to be the best receiver on the field, as well, and we just compete and get better that way.”
In Ty Fryfogle Indiana knows what it has and is fortunate to have him back as he tries to work his way up the NFL Draft board.
D.J. Matthews could step in and actually improve the threat IU has at the slot – which is saying something after Philyor’s production.
Miles Marshall has all the tools to become a high-level receiver and the staff is hoping he puts it all together this year. He gives Penix a bigger target, but Marshall will have to work through some drops that became an issue in 2020.
Buckley, Swinton and Hewitt all figure to be part of a rotation of six receivers, and IU really likes their up-and-coming depth behind that group.
MORE 2021 POSITION PREVIEWS
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