BLOOMINGTON — Whop Philyor may be a sophomore wide receiver in name but he's really participating in just his first preseason training camp.
A year ago, Philyor missed camp with an injury and then was forced to learn on the fly midway through the season. He still managed to catch 33 passes in the Indiana offense — including 13 receptions against Maryland — but he was looking forward to fine tuning what he needed to do in a more controlled environment.
That happened in the spring and is happening this week as IU training camp entered its second week on Friday.
"Last year, I really didn't know the plays during the season so I had to learn them as I went,'' Philyor said. "I feel much more comfortable now.''
Wide receivers coach Grant Heard was asked about the difference between Philyor last season and the way the 5-foot-11, 180-pound receiver looks now.
His facial expression told the whole story. It was an expression of someone who witnessed firsthand major changes in someone's game.
"Since Whop missed camp last year, even though he showed flashes, he was still learning the offense,'' Heard said. "So getting to go through the spring and now a fall camp, he understands his role and what he has to do. And what he has to fix because he has some things to clean up, too.''
The word Heard used to describe Philyor's camp to date was "awesome.''
"He's got all those reps that you think you got being a true freshman but never got them,'' Heard said. "And then all of sudden you're in the middle of the Big Ten and you're having to learn them.
"So the reps he's getting right now are valuable for him.''
Philyor said it was hard to explain just how much he missed not being a part of training camp a year ago.
"It was just hard mentally learning all those plays,'' Philyor said. "It was like all of those concepts. In four years of high school, I knew all my plays but then coming in here and learning a whole new set of everything was hard. Last year, I was mentally out and I felt like I couldn't do anything,
"But this season is different.''
Philyor is clearly one of the fastest players on this Indiana team. He said he is looking forward to helping the offense spread the field with deeper throws and using his versatility to be a playmaker. He ran the ball last year on designed wide receiver runs and also ran back a few kickoffs, too.
Indiana coach Tom Allen said Philyor is more confident, he's fast and he simply understands what he is doing more. But he said there's something about Philyor's speed that is different, too.
"Last year I thought he was really quick but this year his speed has gotten better,'' Allen said. "He can run away from people. He's a legit threat if we can get the ball in his hands.
"He's a dynamic player, I love his competitive spirit and he's a winner.''
As Allen said, there's no doubt that Philyor is more confident going into his second season.
You hear it in his voice when he talks about not only his own speed but IU's overall speed as a team.
"I feel a little stronger, too, but I feel extremely fast,'' Philyor said.
And what does that mean for Big Ten opponents this year?
"We're going to spread them out,'' Philyor said. "We couldn't really throw the ball over the top last year. We threw it to the sides. But this year we're throwing the ball over the top to everybody. People better watch out.''
Philyor said he thinks too much is made over trying to get adjusted to the new quarterbacks this season. He said receiving is receiving once you have the repetitions.
"It's not a big deal because we've been working out together all summer long,'' Philyor said. "On our off days we would get together and say 'We need to touch up on this' or 'We need to touch up on that.'
"It's easier now. We all have chemistry.''