A.J. Derby was so excited for the start of the high school football season, the Iowa City City High senior decided to drive to Cedar Rapids on Thursday night and catch the Xavier-Jefferson opener at Kingston Stadium.
"I'm just waiting for my buddy to pick me up," Derby said. "It's a good chance to see these teams play."
Derby has experienced a busy offseason on the recruiting circuit. Scout ranked him as a three-star recruit on its five-star scale. He has received scholarship offers from hometown Iowa, Michigan, Stanford, Wisconsin and Nebraska, to name a few.
Derby now has focused on his senior season and making it the best it can be.
"I'm very excited," the quarterback said. "We've been working hard as a team to get ready. We feel like we have a shot at being really good this year.
"It's my last time playing football in high school and with these guys. I just want to go out and have a great season and hopefully we do what we are capable of doing. We have a shot to win state. That's what our goal is this year."
Derby finished his junior season with 1,200 yards passing, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also rushed for 1,065 yards and 13 touchdowns. He said he can bench 265-pounds, squat 405 and claims a 35-inch vertical jump.
Derby doesn't feel pressure to show scouts anything he hasn't shown them up to this point.
"I'm not really worried about that," the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder said. "I'm not really worried about what scouts have to say. I just want to go out and win football games."
City High prefers a run-first approach. Derby believes he might get an opportunity to show off what he feels are his improved skills.
"I feel like I'm a better leader," he said. "One of the areas I've gotten better at is my passing. We like to run the ball. I think we will throw the ball more this year, but if it's not needed then I don't see the point of it. If we can run it successfully, then we're going to do that."
Derby plans to keep looking at his options in recruiting, but it's not a priority during his season.
"I'm going to focus on the season,' he said. "Recruiting is going to go how it goes. I'm going to try to take a few officials during the season, but I don't have anything planned yet."
Derby said he hasn't decided which schools he'll visit, but hopes to make some decisions in that regard in the next few weeks.