For six games last season, Indiana’s Mike Penix Jr. repeatedly flung footballs toward Whop Philyor. Those downfield connections helped the Tampa duo form one of the best passing combinations in the Big Ten.
Last week, the rest of college football took notice, too.
Penix Jr. and Philyor were both selected as preseason candidates for the Maxwell Award, presented annually to the top player of the year. They were the only locals among the 90 players on the watch list.
Taking over as a starting quarterback last season, Penix Jr. was efficient, setting Indiana’s single-season completion percentage mark (68.8). The former Tampa Bay Tech standout finished with 1,394 yards, 10 touchdowns and just four interceptions before his season ended with an injury against Northwestern in November of 2019.
Most of those completions went to Philyor, the former Plant star who had a breakout season a year ago. He finished with 70 receptions for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns, becoming just the seventh Hoosier to reach 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
Philyor already was on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors college football’s top receiver.