It was kind of fun watching and listening to the dancing around of the whole DJK-depth chart thing.
Most reasonable people have reached the conclusion that it’s a motivational ploy to show junior wideout Derrell Johnson-Koulianos that, yeah, the show can go on without you. And there’s nothing sinster to it. DJK said he believes any perceived flaw in his character or work ethic is misguided.
Still, it was an exercise in subterfuge during Friday’s media day.
Wide receivers and tight ends coach Erik Campbell went this way.
“He should be motivated,” Campbell said. “First of all, just being motivated to play and have an opportunity to be out here on the field and compete for a job. Anytime you put that Hawkeye uniform on and that helmet, that’s all the motivation you need.”
Head coach Kirk Ferentz said everybody’s evaluated everyday. (This is why they video every practice.)
“He’s played, played a lot and played well. We’ve got at least 25 days before we get into game preparation. There’s a long way to go,” Ferentz said.
For his part, DJK seems to know what time it is.
“I don’t think it means much. It’s the coaches responsibility to figure that whole thing out,” the 6-1, 200-pounder said. “They evaluate us each day, on the field and off the field. They have been doing this a lot of years. This is their profession. They don’t do anything else. They’re not doctors on the side. They’re football coaches. They know what it takes to motivate guys. They know what it takes to get guys to perform at a high level.
“From a player’s standpoint, it’s not my job to question their motives or how they go about getting any player to perform at that level. Right now, what I’m doing is working as hard as I can work. I’m having fun doing it. I love what I’m doing. I love where I’m at. I love the positive energy that’s around this program.”
If the message wasn’t sent directly by coaches, it was by fans and family members apparently. Everyone can read a depth chart and really “read” it.
“I’ve received hundreds of phonecalls and questions. Why aren’t I on the top of the depth chart,” DJK said. “I try not to think about it because I know I’ve been productive in this offense as a starter here.
“I want to start here. Will I start here again? We’ll see, we’ll find out. But I know one thing, it won’t be a question of how hard I worked or an issue I had off the field with the law or in the classroom. I’m going to do what it takes. I trust in the coaches and respect those guys. Obviously, they’re going to give us the best chance this year and put out on the field who they think gives us the best chance.”
And that, really, is enough of this topic. DJK will be there this fall. Will it be the dominant DJK, the one who tore apart Wisconsin in 2007 and played a major role down the stretch last season? Or will it be the DJK who, in a stretch of four games last season, had two, zero, three and two receptions for 57 yards?
On the position as a whole, DJK said, “I would say that we probably have the most talent we’ve had at one time since I’ve been here. Hopefully, our coach can figure out a way to make it happen for all of us.”
The group is light on tested, full-season experience, outside of DJK that is. Stross and TE Tony Moeaki have played, but haven’t made it full seasons.
“We have Tony coming back and he’s healthy right now,” DJK said. “When you watch him perform and workout, you can really tell he’s going to play a huge, productive role in our offense. And we’ve got younger guys. The coaches are looking to get them involved. They’re pushing us, we’re pushing them. We have an opportunity to do great things. I think coach Campbell is going to have his hands full a little bit figuring it out.”