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Looking back at the top WRs from IU recruiting cycles of yore

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We are Remembering Some Guys who’ve caught passes for the Hoosiers during the past decade

NCAA FOOTBALL: OCT 04 North Texas at Indiana
IU’s Shane Wynn scores against North Texas on Oct. 4, 2014.
Photo by AJ Mast/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 15-month recruiting dead period ended last week, allowing college coaches and high school prospects the opportunity to interact face-to-face for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. For IU coach Tom Allen, that meant the start of a busy summer.

While IU coaches get back to scouting the next wave of Hoosier recruiting targets, we thought we’d pass the idle time of late spring/early summer by Remembering Some Guys from past classes, starting with the receiver position. Hat tip to the folks at our Notre Dame sister site One Foot Down for the inspiration here — it’s June and we need things to do.

In this feature, we’ll comb through the 10 classes from 2011 to 2020 and look at the highest-ranked signees and the players who turned out to be the most productive contributors during their time in Bloomington. All rankings come from the 247 Sports database:

2011

Highest ranked: Shane Wynn

Most productive: Toss-up!

The 2011 class yielded two NFL talents in Wynn and Cody Latimer, both of whom signed with IU as three-star recruits out of Ohio. Latimer, a second-round pick by the Denver Broncos in the 2014 NFL Draft, finished his three-year run at IU tied for fourth in 100-yard games (seven) and ranked seventh in yardage (2,042) and receptions (135) on the Hoosiers’ career leaderboard. Wynn, meanwhile, ended his four-year Indiana career ranked second in receptions (189), third in kick return yardage (1,854) and receiving touchdowns (20), fourth in all-purpose yardage (4,429), seventh in receiving yardage (2,198) and tied for eighth in total touchdowns (25) on the program’s all-time lists.

2012

Highest ranked: Kevin Davis

Most productive: Ricky Jones

Davis was one of the more intriguing prospects in former coach Kevin Wilson’s first full signing class, considered by 247 as the top receiver in the state. The Warren Central product redshirted as a freshman before playing only five games as a Hoosier during the 2013 season. He ended up transferring to Eastern Michigan where he played in all 12 games for the Eagles in 2015. Injuries, along with a crowded receivers room, kept Jones from becoming a regular contributor until the second half of his career, at which point the Florida native developed into one of IU’s most valuable targets. Jones, who finished his career with 111 catches for 1,814 yards and eight scores, was Indiana’s highest-graded receiver inside of the fun-as-hell 2015 offense, per Pro Football Focus.

2013

Highest ranked: Taj Williams

Most productive: Isaac Griffith

Oh, what could’ve been. For various reasons, Indiana didn’t get much help at the receiver spots from this class. A late addition to IU’s 2013 recruiting haul, Williams signed his National Letter of Intent with Indiana but ended up going the JUCO route. Eventually, he landed at TCU. Griffith, meanwhile, seemed poised to be a contributor to the passing game in 2015 before suffering what turned out to be a career-ending knee injury during an October trip to Penn State. Griffith, a former three-star recruit from Fort Wayne, appeared in seven career games, making five catches for 54 yards. Anthony Young, a three-star recruit from Ohio, redshirted his freshman year before finishing his career at Akron. He also competed as a sprinter for Akron’s track team.

2014

Highest ranked: Dominique Booth

Most productive: Simmie Cobbs

In the recruiting rankings era, only six IU signees have been ranked higher than Booth, per 247’s database. However, injuries — including an unfortunate history of concussions — prevented Booth from fully tapping into his potential. Cobbs developed into one of the best receivers in the Big Ten during the 2017 season, finishing second in the league in receptions (72) and fourth in yardage (841). And to think, Cobbs, a former Purdue commit, ended up at IU because the Boilermakers told him they wanted him to play safety, not his desired position of receiver. J-Shun Harris was also a member of the 2014 class. Harris rightly became a fan favorite after he persevered through three season-ending ACL injuries to become an All-Big Ten return man during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

2015

Highest ranked: Camion Patrick

Most productive: Nick Westbrook

Kevin Wilson famously called Patrick the best player in the program late in the 2015 season after academic issues relegated the JUCO transfer to scout team duties that fall. Behind the scenes, Patrick dazzled in practices and was the main character in Bunyanesque stories of hope. Injuries, however, added up and Patrick took a medical hardship waiver to end his college career in the summer of 2017. Westbrook was easily one of the most productive Hoosiers — at any position — of the past decade. He finished his stint at IU with 144 receptions for 2,226 yards and 16 touchdowns, ranking sixth all-time in catches, seventh in yardage and TDs, and tying for seventh in 100-yard receiving games (six). Leon Thornton was the third-highest ranked player in the class but ended up switching back and forth from receiver to corner. Donavan Hale, meanwhile, went on to earn All-Big Ten honorable mention recognition in 2018 after catching 42 passes for 508 yards and six scores.

2016

Highest ranked: Jonah Morris

Most productive: Hmmmmmmm

A former Michigan State commit, Morris never found traction within IU’s offense. The 6-foot-4 Morris saw some action on special teams in 2017 before moving to defensive back the following spring. Then, prior to the 2018 season, Morris transferred to Akron, his hometown school, where he caught 26 passes for 381 yards and one touchdown that fall. Taysir Mack, another member of the ‘16 class, appeared poised for a fruitful Big Ten career after catching 23 balls for 310 yards and three touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2017. But Mack transferred to Pitt after that season. Though he’s battled injuries in recent years, Mack has been a productive player during his first three seasons with the Panthers, catching 111 balls for 1,598 yards and six touchdowns in that time. The only other receiver to sign with IU in 2016 was Phil Benker. Lynn Bowden, who went on to sign with Kentucky and develop into a second-day NFL Draft talent, was briefly committed to the program.

2017

Highest ranked: Whop Philyor

Most productive: Ty Fryfogle*

The asterisk is there to remind that Fryfogle’s college career is not yet complete — he announced shortly after last season ended that he’ll return to IU for one more run this fall. Though he’s still adding to his college resume, Fryfogle has already done something no other IU skill player has accomplished: win the Big Ten Richter-Howard Receiver of the Year Award. Fryfogle did so after leading IU with 721 total yards, 90.1 yards per game and seven touchdowns last fall. Philyor was also a strong target in the Indiana passing game for four seasons, finishing his career as IU’s all-time leader with seven double-digit catch games. In a recruiting class that included just two receivers, both Fryfogle and Philyor turned out to be excellent Hoosiers.

2018

Highest ranked: Jacolby Hewitt

The receivers from these final few classes are still playing, so we won’t make any final calls on which players from the bunch are the most productive. Hewitt finally got onto the field in 2020 after an ACL injury sidelined him for the entire 2019 campaign. Across eight games, Hewitt caught five passes for 68 yards, including a momentum-building reception on the game-tying, fourth-quarter drive against Penn State in the season opener. Miles Marshall finished third on the team last season with 290 yards and 19 receptions with one score. His 15.3 yards per catch average was second-best in the program.

2019

Highest ranked: Da’Shaun Brown

IU recruited Brown, a quarterback and defensive back in high school, as an athlete with the intention of beginning his career at receiver. So far he’s only seen limited action, partly because an ACL injury ended his 2020 season in early November. David Ellis moved from receiver to running back after catching 16 balls for 173 yards in 2019. Jordan Jakes transferred to UNLV after taking a redshirt in 2019.

2020

Highest ranked: Rashawn Williams

The fourth-highest ranked receiver to sign with IU during the recruiting rankings era, Williams never saw the field for the Hoosiers. He transferred after the 2020 fall semester, landing at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. Javon Swinton, recruited as an athlete out of Virginia, made an early impact in 2020, recording two big catches for 23 yards in the win over Penn State. David Baker logged four snaps against Maryland last season, his lone game of the fall.

Looking ahead

IU has three high school receivers set to join the program this summer, including four-star prospect Jaquez Smith. The Georgia product’s 247 Sports rating of .9065 makes him the ninth-highest ranked recruit to sign with IU in program history. Three-star recruits Malachi Holt-Bennett and Jordyn Williams are also preparing for their first fall camp in Bloomington.