Senior slot man eager to run for NFL reps this week
There was no NFL Combine this year, no opportunity for football’s top prospects to stand shoulder to shoulder in showcase workouts. And yet, even without any plans to stage its signature pre-draft event, the NFL still released a list of 323 players from 100 schools who would have received invitations in the mail — a nod to those who missed a chance to participate in one of the league’s rites of passage.
Simply seeing his name on that list was enough to make former Indiana receiver Whop Philyor cry.
“I was just so happy,” Philyor said. “All my work paid off. It showed that people have been watching me.”
Although he and his peers weren’t able to show off their hard work at Lucas Oil Stadium this year, Philyor will still have a chance to be seen by NFL power brokers at IU’s pro day on Friday morning. And he’s very excited.
Philyor, who closed his four-year run with the Hoosiers in January as the program’s ninth all-time leading receiver (2,067 yards), has two main goals when the evaluators show up on 17th street with their stopwatches and clipboards: execute crisp routes and run fast as hell.
“I’m most looking forward to my 40-yard dash,” Philyor said, “because most people expect me to run a 4.5. So I’m gonna change a lot of minds when I run my 40; open up a lot of people’s minds and things like that. And my route running. I’ve been working on my route running for about a month. So my route running should be better — I know it can get better. That won’t be a limit of where I’m at, at my pro day.”
Since deciding in January that he would not return for his NCAA-gifted fifth year of eligibility, the Tampa native has been working out in warmer weather. He began his training in Arizona before recently shifting to Atlanta. All the while, he’s been digesting feedback on his player profile, one that could make him a late-round selection later next month.
Philyor led all Big Ten receivers in receptions — 44 of his 54 total grabs came on routes where he lined up on the inside, per Pro Football Focus — on the way to totaling 495 yards and three scores across eight games.
“(Scouts) have been saying they like my play style,” Philyor said. “They like my toughness, my grit. The things we preach at Indiana are toughness and grit, and they say they like those things about me. They like that I’m not easy to bring down.”
Philyor takes pride in his shiftiness over the middle, one of his calling cards during his college career. He’s also proud of his contributions in helping Indiana’s program to where it is today.
That, more than anything, is what comes to mind first when reflecting on his run in Bloomington.
“We’re a football school now,” Philyor said. “We’re not just a basketball school. I’m happy that we got to change the culture at Indiana. That’s what we did. Me, Stevie (Scott), Jamar (Johnson), Jerome (Johnson), Harry (Crider), Jovan (Swann), we’re all leaving the school in a winning situation. We’re not the bottom feeders of the Big Ten no more. We some top dogs.”
And this week, Philyor hopes to hit top speed when the scouts come to town.
“I’ve really been working on my explosiveness,” he said, “trying to get more explosive. It will show on my pro day.”