Iowa City High quarterback A.J. Derby turned in a solid dual threat season in 2008, going over 1,000 yards rushing and passing. He has caught the attention of several schools from around the country and has an offer from Iowa, including others.
In 2005, sports fans in Eastern Iowa saw a junior high basketball player that looked like he might be able to contribute on the varsity squad at City High School while he was just an 8th grader.
Fast forward a few years and Iowa City (City High) junior A.J. Derby is still a pretty impressive athlete. He was 77 of 136 for 1197 yards and 11 touchdown passes to go along with 1164 yards on 168 carries and 13 TD's on the ground for the Little Hawks this past season. Impressive enough to gain attention from some of the biggest college football programs in the country.
"Yeah, I have heard from a lot of schools." Derby says. "I have received letters from Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Stanford, Illinois, Alabama, LSU, Cincinnati."
Playing for a great program like City High certainly helps his recruiting status. Doing well at the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Combine in early January helped him as well.Plus, it never hurts to have good bloodlines; father John played linebacker for Iowa and was a team captain on Iowa's 10-1-1 1991 squad.
Right now the younger Derby is concentrating on trying to get the Little Hawks back to Wells Fargo Arena in March. His team has just one loss on the season – a triple overtime thriller against Cedar RapidsWashington a couple weeks back. He averages around 15 points, eight rebounds, six assists, and two steals per game. If you were to make a list of the ten best players in Iowa, AJ would be near the top of the list on the hard court.
With the dual-threat ability he showed this fall on the gridiron, some fans have speculated that Derby has been tagged with the ‘athlete' label on the recruiting trails.Not true, says A.J.
"The schools want me to play quarterback." Derby says. "They want me to be a quarterback. The coaches like my awareness on the field, and my ability to make quick and sharp decisions. My quickness helps me, too."
While its still early to look ahead to his 2009 football season, he is confident the team will be pretty good.
"We have a lot returning." Derby stated. "We lost three players and hope that guys can step up in those positions. If we can replace those guys it will, hopefully, be a good year."
As far as the basketball team, he has some pretty lofty goals.
"Hopefully, we go all the way."
But A.J. is quick to define that confidence.
"It is early in the season yet to tell yet. We have a good team and we will try to take it one game at a time."
When speaking of his possible college football destination, he is much more reserved. Having a father and brother with Hawkeye ties might make you think things are cut and dried, but that isn't the case right now.
"That doesn't really weigh into my decision at all. I will just put all of that aside and make what I think is the best choice for me."