A.J. Derby leaves Iowa

Iowa City High grad was a redshirt freshman quarterback for the Hawkeyes before a mid-season move to linebacker

Published: January 16 2012 | 2:30 pm - Updated: 3 April 2014 | 10:30 am in

A.J. Derby has asked for a release from his scholarship and will transfer from the University of Iowa, the school announced Monday.

Derby was a redshirt freshman quarterback for the Hawkeyes last season before coach Kirk Ferentz asked the 6-foot-4, 232-pounder to move to linebacker after injuries took bite out of the depth chart.

Derby's father, John, played linebacker for the Hawkeyes from 1988-92. Zack Derby, A.J.'s brother, will be a senior tight end for the Hawkeyes next fall.

“A.J. has asked for his release, which has been granted,” Ferentz said in a release. “We are sorry to see A.J. leave the program. He has been a positive member of our team and a pleasure to coach over the past two years. We wish him the best as he moves forward with his career.”

That paragraph has been used three times since the Hawkeyes' Insight Bowl loss to Oklahoma on Dec. 30.

After being suspended for the Insight Bowl, running back Marcus Coker announced last week that he withdrew from the UI and asked for a release from scholarship. Running back Mika'il McCall, also under suspension, announced his transfer to Southern Illinois via his Facebook page.

Derby, who completed 3 of 6 passes for 30 yards and recorded one special teams tackle, seemed at peace with his move to linebacker, which came Oct. 22 against Indiana. This also came after Derby was charged with public intoxication and fourth-degree criminal mischief after an early October incident in which he punched out a bus window. He was suspended for two games.

"I'm not going to look back now, I'm going to look forward," Derby said describing a phone call from Ferentz that asked him to make the switch. "I'm very excited about this opportunity."

Derby won the No. 2 quarterback spot coming out of fall camp. Derby led Iowa City High to the Class 4A state football title as a senior in 2009. He rushed for 15 TDs and threw for another 23.

“I would like to thank the University of Iowa and football coaches for the opportunity," Derby said in the UI statement. "Unfortunately, I don’t feel this is the best fit for me personally to reach my goals as a student-athlete. I especially wish my brother (Zach) the best of luck in the coming year. I will miss all of my teammates, family and friends who have supported me here. Good luck to everybody. Once a hawk, always a hawk.”

If Derby transfers to an FBS school, he'll be a junior after sitting out next season. If he goes to an FCS school, Derby would be a sophomore and eligible to compete next season.

Derby received 14 scholarship offers before picking the Hawkeyes, including Wisconsin, Alabama, Oklahoma, Miami (Fla.) and Florida.

This is an interview with The Gazette's Scott Dochterman after the Indiana game (all AJD quotes):

DERBY

Tuesday morning

I hadn't thought about it at all until Tuesday. I talked to Coach Ferentz about it and went with it.

I'm excited. It's a good opportunity. It will be a lot of fun to run around and make some tackles. He was excited about it. He said he's going to have to critique me once I start playing.

I worked on the technique with Coach Wilson this week and it worked out. Decided to cross face and get down there.

No, I never really thought about it. I was more focused in coming in at quarterback but they made the change and I'm excited about it now.

I'm not going to think back to the past and just think forward.

As far as I know it's linebacker. We'll see how it goes.

He gave me some time to think about it for the rest of the day before practice. He said I could take as much time as I wanted. I just wanted to make the decision quick to get it done with and get to linebacker, get going.

I talked to my family about it. My brother and just went with that.

It was good to get some contact out there, make a tackle. I haven't had any since I've gotten here so it's kind of fun.

As far as I know.

I went and talked to Coach about it and it was the first time he mentioned linebacker. He thought that was best for the team.

Yeah, it was (surprising). I'm not going to look back now, I'm going to look forward. I'm very excited about this opportunity.

It was Tuesday morning.

He called me in. I didn't really know what it was for. It just kind of went from there.

He asked me what I thought about it and he wanted me to give him an answer by the end of the day.

I don't really think it matters any more. I'm not going to look in the past and I'm just going to look forward.

I have no idea. It's up the coaches and whatever happens, happens.

I was pretty excited when I got out there and I wanted to make the most out of my first linebacker special team play. Nielsen's position

It wasn't bad. I don't know. I think I'm a smart kid so I kind of picked up on it pretty quickly.

I've always tried to be in the best condition I can to be a quarterback because I always have that capability of running so I always wanted to never get tired if I did have to run so I feel like I'm in pretty god condition as it is.

They were supportive. He's excited. He told me he was going to start critiquing me.

I like 17.

Not yet. I'm looking forward to it.

This is the first week.

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