Aug. 27, 2009
Thursday, Aug. 27, Practice Photo Gallery | Video interview with D. Johnson-Koulianos
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos can hear the buzz.
Perhaps it’s a buzz of playing road games at Iowa State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. Maybe it’s a buzz created by scheduled night games against the Nittany Lions, Spartans and a homecoming clash against Michigan. In any case, there is a distinct murmur of anticipation hovering over Iowa City these days.
“We’re getting excited,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “For some reason there’s a buzz in the air right now. It’s going to take a lot of effort from a lot of guys. We’re really going to have to be focused this year and we’re going to need our fan support and we’re going to need everybody working together.”
Seconds continue to tick away from the nine days remaining before the Hawkeyes host intrastate rival Northern Iowa on Sept. 5 inside Kinnick Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:05 a.m., and nearly 71,000 fans will be in attendance.
“The fans at Kinnick Stadium are the greatest fans in the country,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “I remember the first time I walked through that tunnel. I dressed as a redshirt freshman against Ohio State (Sept. 30, 2006) — it was probably one of the most amazing experiences I have ever felt in my life. I made a point to make sure that when I had my opportunity I was going to make that crowd roar and give them a reason to cheer. It’s an honor to play out there each week.”
Johnson-Koulianos has led Iowa in receiving as both a freshman (38 catches, 482 yards) and a sophomore (44-639). He has five career receiving touchdowns. Four of the top six Hawkeye receivers are back from a 2008 season that produced a record of 9-4 and a victory in the Outback Bowl. Also returning is quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 1,956 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“Rick has transitioned into one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever been around,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “He has made a point to make sure that he prepared himself like no one ever has. It’s inspiring, it’s motivating and it’s contagious. We’re going to follow his lead — he’s set a great example for all of us.”
The first two dates of Iowa’s 12-game journey are against the Panthers and Iowa State. The last time the Hawkeyes played Northern Iowa (a 45-21 win in 2005), they finished the season with a January bowl appearance in Tampa. The same is true for the last time Iowa won in Ames (40-21 in 2003).
“We know what we’re capable of,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “Last year we went 9-4 and won a bowl game. We’re looking to reach higher goals this year. We’re going to take it one week at a time, do our best, go out and try to win them all.”
The Hawkeyes practiced outside in rain for the second afternoon in a row. Yesterday they were in the Kenyon Practice Facility, but on Thursday they moved across the street to Kinnick Stadium, where the new field turf held up nicely against the elements.
To view an exclusive 20-image photo gallery of Thursday’s practice inside Kinnick Stadium, click HERE.