BLOOMINGTON – Indiana wide receivers coach Grant Heard sensed the breakout potential for Indiana senior wide receiver Ty Fryfogle in training camp.
“Fry, he’s exactly where he needs to be,” Heard said last month. “I’m expecting big things from him.”
Fryfogle has met those expectations, earning Big Ten Offensive Player of Week honors after posting the best game for an IU receiver since 2016 with 11 catches for 200 yards and two TDs against Michigan State. He’ll be counted on for more catches when No. 9 IU faces at No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday.
Overall, Fryfogle’s 342 yards receiving over the last two games have vaulted him atop the Big Ten in receiving yardage with 23 catches for 424 yards and four TDs. His 200 yards receiving were the most for an IU receiver since Ricky Jones finished with 208 yards against Wake Forest on Sept. 24, 2019.
Heard said Fryfogle has improved the most this season in his ability to make more contested catches on 50-50 balls.
“He’s so confident right now,” Heard said. “Wherever that ball is, he believes he can make a play, and we’re going to need him to do the same thing Saturday.”
Several factors have played into Fryfogle’s torrid start, including coverages focusing attention on fellow senior wide receiver Whop Philyor and a growing chemistry with sophomore quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
That was apparent when Fryfogle adjusted on a sideline route, making a fingertip, basket catch and then turning down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown catch-and-run against Michigan State.
“As the weeks go on, you get better chemistry going, just having more practices together, playing together,” Fryfogle said. “That’s just how it is. I feel really great about Mike, just being able to get more practices in than last year. The last couple of years.”
On the other side, Philyor has been productive coming off his 1,000-yard junior season in 2019, with 24 catches for 287 yards and one TD. Fryfogle could see more coverage shift his way against Ohio State, which could open up some opportunities for Philyor.
“The coaches, they are going to put us in a good opportunity to beat whatever the defenses throw at us,” Fryfogle said. “I think we’ll be ready for it on game day.”
At 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, Fryfogle is a bigger target who has developed in each of his four seasons on IU’s campus. Fryfogle went from 29 catches for 381 yards and three TDs as a sophomore to 45 catches for 604 yards and three TDs in 2019. He’s likely to eclipse that total again this season.
Coming out of high school in Lucedale, Mississippi, Fryfogle said he’s tried to prove he’s capable of making both tough catches over the middle and deep balls past opposing cornerbacks.
“People say my speed may be a problem, but I feel like I’ve shown over the past couple of years that I can run, just make plays all over at every position,” Fryfogle said. “I’m just trying to get better as each day goes on.”
The stands at Ohio Stadium will be completely empty for Saturday’s matchup between the Hoosiers and Buckeyes. Per a Columbus, Ohio, Department of Heath stay-at-home advisory issued Wednesday, no family members of either Ohio State or Indiana players will be permitted to attend.