Ex-Hawkeye Johnson-Koulianos ready for NFL spotlight

CBSSports.com wire reports

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- 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.

Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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