IOWA CITY, Ia. - Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. DJK. ‘Rell. Koul. Derrell-evant. The list goes on…
The man with many monikers is lighting it up on the field. The quote machine has been silent off of it.
We’ve received different reasons as to why Iowa’s star wide receiver has been sacked from interviews since media day in early August.
“He is choosing to stay out (of the media), too, because he doesn’t want to say something to get me ticked off,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said on Tuesday. “We are trying to coexist peacefully.”
That has not always been the case in Johnson-Koulianos’ five years at the school. The Ohio native talked extensively on media day about being in the coach’s dog house throughout his college career.
Johnson-Koulianos handled himself well at media day. So, I asked Ferentz Tuesday if he may have done something then since we‘ve not heard from him. The coach said he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Sports Information Director Phil Haddy told me a few weeks ago that the wide receiver would not be talking to the media based on a coach’s decision. He then said Saturday that Johnson-Koulianos might be made available if he breaks the records many anticipate that he will.
Earlier in the press conference, Ferentz was asked if the media did something to alienate the senior receiver.
“I don't think you did,” the coach responded. “I think he loves you guys actually, talking in general terms. You can move in with him in January. Help yourself. I told him that, too. He can Twitter; can have a ball.”
The room broke into laughter. Ferentz has made light of the Johnson-Koulianos media restriction going back to the spring. You can tell the coach gets a little uncomfortable talking about it, however.
Ferentz loves to compare players through his era. On Tuesday, he struggled to find a match for the smooth-talking DJK.
“Can you think of one?” the coach asked.
“Totally different personality,” Ferentz countered. “Derrell would be a perfect NFL receiver based on some of the guys that are getting notoriety. He will fit right in if he gets that chance.”
And that’s really the rub with DJK and Ferentz. He’s built his program on a low-key approach, not the flamboyance exhibited by Johnson-Koulianos.
“That’s just kind of Derrell. That’s his personality,” Iowa Senior Julian Vandervelde said. “He’s very out there. He’s extraordinarily confident. And when you’re as skilled an athlete as he is, you have a bit of right to be confident. We prefer to have more of a humble, more down-to-earth sort of a team. So maybe, there are times when things he says some people don’t like or take a little bit of an offense to. But, you know, that’s DJK. You take what you get.”
Vandervelde was removed from interviews when as a true freshman he said that he hated Iowa State.
“It took me a year,” Vandervelde said about getting back in front of the press. “I don’t know what I did. I think I just kept my mouth shut long enough and they decided to let me go.”
Johnson-Koulianos hasn’t allowed his seclusion to affect his production. The receiver has caught 11 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks.
DJK is on pace to break two major records at Iowa and could become the first player to lead the team in receiving for four years. He sits 130 yards from Tim Dwight’s career mark of 2,271 and his 144 receptions are 13 short of Kevin Kasper’s all-time mark.
“You know, bottom line is he's been able to play four years basically,” Ferentz said. “That's a part of it. That's not something you just take for granted, the fact that he's been able to stay healthy. He has been productive. He's come up with a lot of big plays for us, a lot of deep balls where he's made some good plays.
“When you connect on deep balls, that helps the yardage part of it. He's done a lot of good things for us, been a real good player.”
Despite appearances to the contrary, Ferentz said his relationship with his star receiver is “fine.”
“I enjoy him,” the coach said. “He’s been a good player for us.”
“He's really a pleasant guy. Like I told you before, it's not like we're cats and dogs at all. I'm the killjoy and he's the fun guy, so... Old guy/young guy. One of those deals.”