Derrell Johnson-Koulianos: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been

David Fidler Correspondent IApril 25, 2010

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05:  Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs a pattern on offensie against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Iowa won 24-14. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Heading into his senior season, he's got 127 receptions for 1871 yards. That is exactly 30 catches away from breaking Kevin Kasper's career reception record for the Hawkeyes and 210 yards away from breaking Timmy Dwight's record for career receiving yardage.

He is also a dangerous return man , has never been in trouble with the law, has never been in trouble with his grades, has never been suspended, has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated , has a million dollar smile , is an impeccable dresser , and is charming to a fault.

Yet, he has seemingly been in Kirk Ferentz's doghouse since the moment he stepped on campus.

His name is Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, affectionately known as DJK, and he has been the object of Hawkeye fans' obsession before he even stepped on campus in 2006.

He came to Iowa out of Cardinal Mooney in Youngstown, Ohio, where he played quarterback. Needless to say, one is left to ask how an Ohio product could have slipped through OSU coach Jim Tressel's hands?

The fact is, DJK grew up an OSU fan, and he wanted to become a Buckeye. However, Tressel didn't offer Koulianos anything due to his grades. Meanwhile, Iowa, being in a position where they could—or needed to—presumably take more risks, gave DJK an offer that he accepted.

Shortly after DJK's acceptance of the Iowa offer, ESPN analyst and former OSU quarterback Kirk Herbstreit was overheard congratulating Kirk Ferentz on signing the most talented player to come out of the Buckeye State that year. At that point the legend took off.

It was further heightened by DJK's senior high school tape which, quite frankly, is on par with Reggie Bush's now-legendary high school highlight tape.

The Iowa message boards caught fire about this guy that had yet to play even one college down. In fact, he hadn't ever played a down as a receiver. Yet, to Iowa fans, he was indeed the second coming of Timmy Dwight.

Much to many fans' chagrin, he redshirted his true freshman year—a disappointing year for the Hawkeyes in which many fans felt they could have used some sort of spark.

Unfortunately, as far as records went, 2007 wasn't much better than 2006, as Iowa failed to go to a bowl game for the first time since 2000.

However, DJK was finally unveiled, and he led the team with 38 catches for 482 yards.

Of course, as stated earlier, he seemed to be in Kirk Ferentz's dog house the entire season, and fans were never sure why. However, I believe it was during the Minnesota game when the picture began to get clearer.

Koulianos ran a deep route, but quarterback Jake Christensen threw it short, and it was picked off. DJK, instead of turning around and attempting to tackle the man that had picked the ball off, continued running his route. He ran right through the end zone and into the student section where he exchanged high fives with those in the front row.

Nothing was ever said about it. Koulianos was never benched, and even though Iowa pulled the win out against the Gophers, they proceeded to lose the next week against Western Michigan and spent the bowl season in Iowa City.

The following season went a little better, as Iowa wound up 9-4, winning the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.

DJK once again led the team in both receptions (44) and yards (639). Yet, there seemed to be constant tension with Coach Ferentz. Koulianos, despite his obvious playmaking ability, was often not named as a starting receiver.

2009 was even more successful, both for the Hawks and DJK. The team went 11-2, winning a decisive Orange Bowl over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. DJK had 45 catches for 750 yards. This was despite missing a fair amount of playing time due to injuries.

However, it seemed to be more of the same, as DJK was only occasionally named as a starting receiver, and he was only put back on kickoff returns when Ferentz's hand was forced due to injuries.

Also, Pat Harty, a columnist for the Iowa City Press Citizen , wrote a now infamous blog entry in which he advised DJK to "get with the program." DJK, in his ever-charming way, jabbed back at Harty , following an impressive performance against Michigan.

Oh, and there was also DJK's Twitter account which has since been deactivated. It is strictly guesswork, but I'm going to hypothesize Captain Kirk had a hand in that.

Moving into 2010, Iowa finished up its spring practice session last Saturday, and it was more of the same.

To begin with, despite being Iowa's leading receiver for the past three years, he was slotted as the co-starting split end on Iowa's spring scrimmage depth chart .

Furthermore, after wide receiver coach Erik Campbell chewed DJK out following a play, Koulianos was seen doing push ups on the sideline.

Finally, despite being a senior, despite being on the verge of breaking two Iowa receiving records, despite being a fan favorite and a great interview, DJK was held out of the interview session with the press following the scrimmage.

So, what can we expect from DJK in his senior campaign?

If he stays healthy, it is safe to assume we can expect at least two broken receiving records. We can probably also expect a constant behind-the-scenes power struggle between him and Coach Ferentz.

I have no idea what that will entail, but it certainly keeps Hawk fans on their toes.

In short, you can say what you want about DJK's Iowa career, but it has been anything but boring.









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