A.J. Derby, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound four-star quarterback/safety from Iowa City, Iowa, finished his junior season with 1,200 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 1,065 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Although Derby played safety as a sophomore, he says he’s being recruited to play quarterback. “I’m a quarterback,” he said. “I know Scout used to list me as a safety, but everyone is recruiting me as a QB.”
Derby says he can bench 265-pounds, squat 405 and claims a 35-inch vertical jump and 4.6 forty speed.
“I’m a good leader and am really competitive,” he said. “I have the ability to leave the pocket and can make something out of nothing. I definitely look to throw first, but I’m not afraid to take off and run and make things happen.”
Derby realizes there is still a lot of room for improvement. “I’m working a lot on my feet,” he said. “I also want to improve my accuracy in my throws.”
With nine early scholarship offers, Derby says he hasn’t narrowed down his favorites yet and continues to deny a leader. He says he has offers from childhood favorite Iowa, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Stanford, Florida State, Kansas and Alabama.
“I’m just focused on finishing up basketball right now,” he said. “Once the season is done I’ll start thinking about football and start going to combines and camps. I’m not going to commit early though. I really want to take my time and really feel everyone out.”
Derby’s dad (John Derby) played middle linebacker for the Hawkeyes. “Iowa is a real nice place,” he said. “Being from Iowa City and having my dad go made me really love them and I’ve been following them my whole life.
“It’s only about five minutes away,” Derby said. “And I really like the campus because it’s not too big and you can pretty much walk the whole thing.”
The Hawkeyes were Derby’s first offer during his sophomore year, but he says his family ties to Iowa do not give them any kind of edge. “I’m not going to go there just because my dad did,” he said.
“He told me to take my official visits,” he said. “He said that I’ll get that gut feeling and that I’ll just know. He says that it really shouldn’t be too hard a decision.”
Besides Iowa, Derby also attended camps last summer at Oklahoma and Florida and although he says he likes both programs, neither have offered yet. “They have my highlight tape,” he said. “I know the Oklahoma coaches are out of town right now, but I’m sure I’ll be hearing back from them once they get to watch it.”
Just recently (Feb. 14) Derby visited Nebraska for their junior day. “It was real good there,” he said. “I liked getting to talk with coach Tom Osborne and (head) coach Bo Pelini. That was a lot of fun. They are great guys and coach Osborne is a legend.”
He says another thing that stood out about the Huskers was their facilities. “We got to tour around and the facilities were really cool,” Derby said. “It’s all about football there and everything is the best.”
Derby says he’s already been invited to several spring combines, games and camps – including the Elite 11, but isn’t sure which ones he’ll attend. “I’m definitely planning on going to a few,” he said. “I’m just not sure which ones.”
But one plan that he has definitely made is to return to Lincoln for the Nebraska spring game (April 18). “I really want to go to their spring game,” Derby said. “I’ve heard it’s always sold out and gets a huge crowd. I’d love to check that out.”
Derby says he isn’t sure what he’d like to major in but reports a 3.0 core GPA. He hasn’t scheduled the ACT or SAT yet.
“I’ve talked to Stanford about my grades and they said that I can’t get anymore C’s.” he said. “I had a 3.8 last year so my GPA is improving. They said if I get a 25 or 26 on the ACT then I’ll be fine.”