"I met (current UCONN Quarterback) Chandler Whitmer at a camp we attended together in Chicago during high school," Derby commented. "We stayed in touch. After he played for Coach Flores at Butler Community College and learned that he was taking over the head job at Coffeyville, he put the two of us in touch. [He] informed me it was a good situation to play under Coach Flores. You look at the past two quarterbacks he produced in Chandler and Zach Mettenberger (LSU signee), and it was easy to get excited about his track record."
"Thus far, in spring practice, everything has gone well," Derby continued. "We're running a no-huddle, hurry-up offense with many different tempos to maintain a balanced offense with an equal amount of run and pass. As a team, things are clicking well and I'm excited to finish spring ball and get the recruiting process rolling heading into next fall. Coach Flores has done a great job working with me on my footwork and fundamentals, and has held me accountable to my mechanics to ensure I'm becoming a better quarterback."
Derby's transition to Coffeyville Community College did not come with ease. His transfer from The University of Iowa was impactful in more ways than his own personal decision. His older brother, Zach Derby, is a senior tight end on the team and currently listed as the number two tight end. His father, John Derby, was a team captain and All-Big 10 linebacker for the Hawkeyes. Derby also grew up in Iowa City where he developed himself as one of the state's top athletes.
"The University of Iowa means a lot to me," Derby stated. "It's a great environment, a great program and there are a lot of great people involved. It wasn't an easy decision but my decision to stay home was based more on my family. It just wasn't the right fit for me, and I needed to move forward with an opportunity outside of home."
Derby says he is open to any colleges that want to pursue him. He will be eligible for a mid-year transfer in January 2013.
This spring, in preparation for spring practice at Coffeyville, Derby flew to Bradenton, Fla. to train at the IMG Madden Football Academy to train with Director Chris Weinke and staff.
"I had a great experience. I went down to work with the best quarterback gurus available and learned a lot. I had a lot of rust throwing the football when I first got there. But by the end of the week I was comfortable with my footwork and mechanics. They worked with me to keep my balance with my footwork and to keep my shoulders level which improved my accuracy tremendously. They also worked with my release point which helped with my ball flight and turning the ball over, and the height of my elbow to be more consistent with my accuracy."
"I didn't play quarterback until my freshman year of high school, and when I transferred schools as a sophomore, I spent a season playing wide receiver," Derby added. "Through high school and thus far in my collegiate career, I have not dedicated a lot of time working with coaches on my fundamentals and mechanics playing the position. I have relied mostly on my athleticism so learning what I learned with Coach Weinke and his staff; I've decided I'm going to return in the summer to spend a month focused on reaching my potential."
While at the IMG Madden Football Academy, Derby spent time with quarterback instructor David Reaves, a former quarterbacks coach at the University of South Carolina and Tennessee, and offensive coordinator at the University of New Mexico.
Reaves offered his assessment to Scout.com: "AJ benefited tremendously
during his week spent in Florida. His timing and rhythm was where it needed to
be by the end of the week heading into spring practice. AJ has good size and
strength; he can make all the throws, and is a great athlete at the position who
can make plays with his feet. For any schools looking for immediate help at the
position, you have a guy that can join you mid-year and is going to be ready to
help your program. I believe there will be a lot of schools interested in
checking out AJ this fall."
Derby was ranked the No. 38 quarterback in the nation and rated 3-Stars by Scout.com coming out of high school.