Johnson-Koulianos hoping to prove worth to NFL
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - As the stars of Iowa's football team soaked up applause at a halftime ceremony honoring their Insight Bowl win during Sunday's basketball game, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos sat hardly noticed in the stands.
Johnson-Koulianos is hoping he'll soon be back in the spotlight.
Johnson-Koulianos, the Hawkeyes leader in career receptions, saw his legacy at Iowa tarnished after he was suspended for Iowa's 27-24 victory over Missouri in the Insight Bowl following an arrest in early December on drug charges.
Johnson-Koulianos plead guilty to marijuana possession while other drug charges against him were dismissed. Johnson-Koulianos was granted a deferred judgment and received a year's probation and a small fine, but the incident put his potential draft stock in doubt.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder from Campbell, Ohio, who finished his career with 173 catches for 2,616 yards and 17 touchdowns - including 10 last season - told The Associated Press on Sunday that he's working to prove he's worthy of being selected in this spring's NFL Draft.
"There's still maybe the question of why I let myself be in that type of environment,'' Johnson-Koulianos said. "I'm just talking to teams right now, letting them know that that's not who I am. Anybody that takes a chance on me, they'll never have to worry about me making that mistake.''
Johnson-Koulianos said he's working out in Chicago in preparation for the draft. Johnson-Koulianos said he's gotten a lot faster and stronger and is up to 24 bench presses at 225 pounds, a key barometer for NFL scouts.
Johnson-Koulianos also made a strong impression at the NFLPA All-Star game in San Antonio earlier this month, catching five passes for 77 yards.
"I'm just trying to get better at my craft,'' Johnson-Koulianos said. "I'm just trying to (fine-tune) my game as a whole. I think I'm progressing really well.''
Though Johnson-Koulianos said he no longer had much of a relationship with coach Kirk Ferentz, he remains thankful to Hawkeye fans.
"My heart's with the program and it always will be. I want to thank them for supporting me for five years,'' Johnson-Koulianos said.
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