IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa recruiting prospects A.J. Derby and Andre Dawson helped bring a lot of fans out to Bates Field here on Friday night. Derby's Iowa City, City High team, ranked No. 1 in the state at Class 4A, hosted Dawson's third-ranked Cedar Rapids Washington squad.
It turned out to be a mismatch as City ran over the Warriors, 65-21. Derby shined by completing 8 of 11 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, including a 57-yarder he threw while standing on his back foot. The highly-ranked national recruit also ran 17 times for 118 yards and two scores.
Meanwhile, the Little Hawks were keying on Dawson. That strategy, plus Washington needing to pass to overcome the lopsided score, resulted in a 12-carry, 34-yard game for the all-state running back.
Here's what I saw in my first live look at the two Hawkeye targets:
Derby - I went into the game thinking about all the people that have told me this kid can't be a high major quarterback in college. After hearing it so many times, it almost became a fact.
Luckily, I took the short trip up the road to watch A.J. For me, he showed he deserved a look at playing QB at whatever school he chooses among such scholarship offers as Iowa, Michigan, Florida, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Derby looked every bit of the 6-foot-5, 220 pounds at which Scout.com listed him. He showed real good arm strength, good footwork, proved he could make several different throws and he was accurate, a knock on him in the past.
I also think he could play defense in college. He plays safety and defensive end for the Little Hawks, but probably projects as an outside linebacker if he ended up on that side of the ball.
There is no doubt that Derby is a special football player. He looks like a man among boys at the high school level. He sure would look nice in Black and Gold.
Dawson - As I mentioned above, Dawson wasn't afforded the opportunity to showcase his talents much on Friday night. He delivered a few 5-7 yard runs early in the game, and showed nice vision, burst and strength on those carries.
What impressed me the most about Dawson was his willingness to block hard when the Warrior coaches used him as a decoy against a defense that was keying on him. The Washington quarterback ran wild in the first half thanks in large part to Dawson's blocking and team play.
I also noticed that Dawson lined up in the slot a few times. Although he wasn't thrown the ball, the coaches must have had confidence in the running back to split him out.