Cardinal Mooney, Iowa grad overcomes obstacles, becomes mentor


Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is now focused on using his experience to help develop a new crop of football talent

BLOOMSBURG, Pa. (WKBN) – Derrell Johnson-Koulianos is yet another example of a local football standout who has taken his talents to the coaching ranks.

He’s been hired as wide receivers coach at Division Two Bloomsburg.

“In a football atmosphere, in that environment, I’ve done it my whole life and when it wasn’t there, I had to fill that void,” Johnson-Koulianos said.

An all-state quarterback at Cardinal Mooney, Johnson-Koulianos was a driving force that helped lead the Cardinals to an appearance in the 2005 state championship game.

He suffered an injury in the state semifinals, forcing him to sit out the championship game, which Mooney lost to Coldwater 33-9.

“I must think about it once a week 15 years later. To come that close, it still pains me to this day,” he admitted.

It was then on to Iowa in the Big Ten for Johnson-Koulianos. He starred for the Hawkeyes at wide receiver, leaving as the program’s career leader in receiving yards and catches.

“I was checking all the boxes. I was on my way. Senior year, three months before my dreams were going to come to fruition, just like that, it washed away,” Johnson-Koulianos said.

In 2010, he was arrested on multiple drug charges. He eventually pleaded guilty to marijuana possession, with all other charges dropped.

“People actually thought that I was a drug dealer. I never sold a drug in my life,” he said. “The decision to live with somebody who was around that, and using that and distributing was the error in judgment.”

But the damage was done and so were his chances of playing in the NFL.

It’s a reality that caused several dark years for “DJK,” who never got a chance to prove himself in the pro ranks.

The soon-to-be father of two is now focused on using his experience to help develop a new crop of football talent as a college football assistant coach.

“A lot has happened since there. A lot of growing up and maturing has happened and, like I said, I’m in a really good place.”

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