Oct. 19, 2010
- Iowa Football Game Day Central
- Cast Your O’Brien Quarterback Award
- Vote for R. Stanzi as a Premier Player
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Three years ago a freshman receiver from the University of Iowa made a one-handed touchdown catch with four seconds left in the first half giving the Hawkeyes a 10-7 lead at Wisconsin. That was the first collegiate scoring reception for Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who in 39 games since, has become a household hyphenated name among Hawkeyes.
Last Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., Johnson-Koulianos passed Tim Dwight as the all-time receiving yardage leader in Iowa history with 2,275. For his career, Johnson-Koulianos has 152 receptions and 14 touchdowns. He is closing in on two other school marks: the all-time reception leader is Kevin Kasper with 157 from 1997-2000 and Maurice Brown corralled 11 touchdown receptions in the 2002 season (Johnson-Koulianos currently has seven).
To Johnson-Koulianos, a more important figure is 31: the number of victories he has been part of since joining the Hawkeyes.
“There are a lot of hungry players on this team and we’re not doing things for ourselves individually,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “That’s why we’ve been winning ball games. Adrian Clayborn, Karl Klug, Ricky Stanzi…they’re going hard for you, so I’m obligated to give these guys, my coaches and our fans my best effort. We’re doing that for each other and we’re having a good year.”
For the third week in a row, the No. 12 Hawkeyes (5-1 overall, 2-0 Big Ten Conference) will face a nationally ranked opponent. No. 10 Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1) enters Kinnick Stadium on Oct. 23 with a 2:30 p.m. start. In three games against the Badgers, Johnson-Koulianos has caught 15 passes for 188 yards. He had one of the best games of his career last season during a 20-10 victory at Madison, hauling in eight passes for 113 yards with four going for first downs.
“I was reflecting on how it all started for me and that night in Madison (Sept. 22, 2007) stands out as a significant point,” said Johnson-Koulianos, a converted high school quarterback. “That’s when I told myself I can play at a high level here. Before, I didn’t know what could happen because I had never played (wide receiver) before.”
“There are a lot of hungry players on this team and we’re not doing things for ourselves individually. That’s why we’ve been winning ball games. Adrian Clayborn, Karl Klug, Ricky Stanzi…they’re going hard for you, so I’m obligated to give these guys, my coaches and our fans my best effort. We’re doing that for each other and we’re having a good year.”
UI senior wide receiver
The Monday after his record-setting performance in Michigan, Johnson-Koulianos was volunteering at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, transporting patients from floor to floor.
“My whole life I’ve been given so much from God and millions of people,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “So if I can put a smile on anybody’s face for even one day, it’s worth it. I was given such an opportunity to play a key role on this team and I’m grateful to coach (Ken) O’Keefe and coach (Kirk) Ferentz for that. I want to reflect the university in a positive light and I will continue to give back.”
Right now, Johnson-Koulianos is giving the Hawkeyes a boost while giving Hawkeye fans plenty to cheer for. He currently has 25 receptions for 404 yards and seven touchdowns; the touchdown total through six games equals his figure from the previous three seasons combined. Johnson-Koulianos has returned nine kickoffs for an average of 27.1 yards.
As an all-state performer in Ohio, Johnson-Koulianos lived in the heart of Big Ten country, but said he knew little about Hawkeye football history. When he arrived in Iowa City he began flipping through statistics and watching game film.
“It’s normal to check to see what people have done before,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “That’s when I learned about Kevin Kasper, Mo Brown, Tim Dwight and Ed Hinkel. I couldn’t believe what an exceptional athlete Tim Dwight was.”
And now he has caught passes for more yardage than any of those Hawkeye greats. Just like Keith Chappelle, Quinn Early, Dave Moritz, Danan Hughes or Ronnie Harmon before him, Johnson-Koulianos couldn’t have reached any milestone alone.
“To me, it’s a reflection of a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” he said. “You have to credit the perseverance of the quarterback, the offensive line and the coaches. It’s a reward, but it happened because so many people were doing what it took to win football games. The whole motive is to get a victory and it just so happened that I was fortunate enough to be part of a game plan where I could help the team get out of there with a W.”
Throughout his career, Johnson-Koulianos has had games with a lot of catches (eight at Northwestern in 2007 and eight at Wisconsin in 2009), a lot of yards (181 at Minnesota in 2008) and a lot of touchdowns (three at Michigan last week). He is on pace to become the first Hawkeye to lead the team in receiving four consecutive seasons. So what is his preference, a game with several catches, a bunch of yards, or multiple touchdowns?
“It doesn’t matter,” Johnson-Koulianos said. “What drives me is performing in critical-down situations. I love big third downs — that’s what I look forward to.”
Johnson-Koulianos expects to have a lot more fun with his teammates on Saturdays before graduating in December with a degree in interdepartmental studies. The 2010 season has reached its midway mark and Johnson-Koulianos said the mindset of the large senior class has trickled down to the rest of the squad.
“Every week we face one team and we play with a chip on our shoulder like it’s the last game of the year,” he said. “Late October and November is when it gets fun. Every game is more important than the last.”