Written by Evan McShane (@veryreasonable)
Happy Friday! The spring practice previews continue with the wide receivers. This was a position group that answered a lot of questions last season and is looking to be more explosive in 2019. The group is led by seniors Nick Westbrook and Donavan Hale with promising juniors Ty Fryfogle and Whop Philyor adding to that veteran presence. With a new offensive coordinator and what will be a good quarterback battle, fans should be excited what they could see from this group.
Nick Westbrook – Senior – 6’3”/215lbs
Nick Westbrook rounded into form last season after suffering a season ending knee injury the year prior. Leading the team with 590 receiving yards, Westbrook hauled in 42 receptions and four touchdowns. He started in every game and had over 100 yards receiving on two occasions. Westbrook has excellent explosiveness for his size. With an intriguing quarterback battle brewing in Bloomington, Hoosier wide receivers should have a chance to thrive. Both Nick Westbrook and fellow Florida native Donavan Hale should make for a lethal pair of downfield threats as seniors. Look for these two wideouts to battle each other for the team lead in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Westbrook will benefit greatly from the addition of Kalen DeBoer as Indiana’s new offensive coordinator.
Donavan Hale – Senior – 6’4”/229lbs
On the opposite side of the field will be senior Donavan Hale. Hale has proven he can win jump balls and make big plays. Last season Hale caught 42 passes for 508 yards. He led the Hoosiers with six receiving touchdowns. Like Westbrook, Hale also suffered a knee injury in 2017 and he received a medical redshirt. Hale showed no signs of slowing down. The only thing Indiana’s wide receiver duo needs is a consistent deep passing attack. The Hoosiers have proven that when they do take shots downfield, it changes the dynamic of their entire offense. Quite simply, you need to be able to create big plays in the passing game theses days. Donavan Hale and Nick Westbrook are poised to have dominant senior seasons.
Whop Philyor – Junior – 5’11”/180lbs
Hoosier fans already know Whop Philyor has the best name on the team. They just want to hear his name called more. The speedster from Tampa, Florida was limited by injury, playing in only seven games. He caught 23 passes for 235 yards last year and one touchdown. These numbers were actually down from 2017 where he caught 33 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns. Philyor is an explosive player capable of making big plays from the slot. At just 5-foot-11, Philyor needs to get the ball in space so he can use his agility to make guys miss and his speed to create chunk plays. When he’s emphasized in the offense, good things happen. For example, against Michigan State, Philyor caught 13 passes (fourth-most in school history) for 148 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run. In the absence of Luke Timian, Whop Philyor will need to step up in the slot to fill his shoes.
Ty Fryfogle – Junior – 6’2”/212lbs
Last season Ty Fryfogle proved to be one of Indiana’s more reliable wide receivers. As a sophomore in 2018, Fryfogle caught 29 passes for 381 yards and three touchdowns. Fryfogle played in all 12 games, averaging 13.1 yards per catch and almost 32 yards per game. The Hoosiers will have a lot of depth at wide receiver in 2019, and Fryfogle will be a major part. Based on his 2018 season, he could be poised for another leap. Fryfogle is a good possession wide receiver with steady hands and good size at 6-foot-2. Fryfogle had touchdowns of both 33 yards and 37 yards, proven that when targeted downfield, he can make plays. Indiana will have a plethora of options on offense next season. Who will emerge among the group and how will Kalen DeBoer manage to spread the ball around?
Miles Marshall – Redshirt Freshman – 6’4”/210lbs
Standing at 6-foot-4, 210lbs, Miles Marshall brings more size and depth to the wide receiver position. Marshall redshirted last season and played in the Rutgers game in September. The Georgia native will fight for playing time as a redshirt freshman in 2019. Indiana offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer has vowed to throw the ball often. Hoosier fans should see the number of passing attempts per game – and more specifically passes downfield – vastly increase. This will require fresh bodies and a deep rotation of wide receivers. Marshall will look to make a name for himself in Bloomington and have a breakout season in 2019.
Jacolby Hewitt – Redshirt Freshman – 6’1”/200lbs
Jacolby Hewitt redshirted the 2018 season after signing with the Hoosiers out of Cordova High School in Tennessee. The talented wide receiver was a 2017 All-State selection, accumulating over 1,000 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior in high school. During his redshirt season he was named scout team player of the week in October. Will Hewitt emerge among the group of young wide receivers?
Reese Taylor- Sophomore- 5’11”/184lbs
Taylor came to IU with a lot of expectations and potential. He is a good enough athlete that he started the year playing both ways before permanently moving to the offensive side of the ball, eventually ending the season as the Hoosiers’ backup quarterback. He finished 2018 with 323 all-purpose yards (174 receiving, 83 rushing and 66 on kick returns).
Taylor is listed as “Athlete” on the official IU roster, but we’ll include him with the receivers. The biggest thing with him is that offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer must find ways to get him the ball, whether it’s at quarterback, running back, H-back or receiver. It just has to happen.
Justin Berry – Redshirt Junior – 6’0”/202lbs
Justin Berry appeared on special teams in the win against Ball State. Berry was a two-time special teams scout player of the week and was named offensive player of the week once. Berry was an Academic All-Big Ten selection. The Charleston, South Carolina native is ready for a bigger role.
Jack Moran – Redshirt Sophomore – 6’2”/185lbs
Jack Moran walked-on to the football program in 2017. He has earned scout team honors on two occasions and was an Academic All-Big Ten selection last year.
Luke Shayotovich – Redshirt Freshman – 5’8”/171lbs
Luke Shayotovich walked-on to the program in 2018 where he redshirted. He earned scout team player of the week honors on three separate occasions, twice on offense and once on special teams.