AJ Derby Leaves Iowa

Another week, another Iowa football player announces he is leaving the program.

Well, it hasn’t been THAT bad..but that’s three Iowa players announcing their intentions to transfer out of the program inside of the past two weeks.  AJ Derby now joins the list of former Hawkeyes, along with Marcus Coker and Mika’il McCall.

Here was what Kirk Ferentz and Derby had to say in the Monday press release:

“A.J. has asked for his release, which has been granted,” said Ferentz.  “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.”

A.J. Derby added the following:  “I would like to thank the University of Iowa and football coaches for the opportunity.   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.”

The part where Derby says Iowa is not the best fit for him to reach his goal as a student athlete is the telling part, at least to me.  This is my opinion and nothing more, but my guess is that Derby thinks he is a quarterback and is not ready to give up on that dream.

If he does believe that and doesn’t want to give up on that dream, then good for him in pursuing something he truly believes in.

Derby made the move to linebacker from quarterback during the 2011 season, a couple of weeks after he was arrested on an alcohol related issues.  He was suspended for two games and upon his return, it was off to the defense.

This was a move that caught his teammates by surprise, as Derby said he showed up to the linebackers meeting in late October and his teammates wondered if he knew where he was.  Derby also told reporters that Ferentz approached him about this move in late October and it was the first time he had considered it, and that it was not an easy decision.

You can read more of Derby’s comments from that late October time frame at this link.

More of my opinion here, but I am wondering if Derby felt like he didn’t have much ground to stand on as a quarterback at Iowa following his arrest and accepted the position change request.  He certainly didn’t have the moral high ground, as quarterbacks are supposed to be leaders on and off the field and an arrest in the middle of the season isn’t a ringing endorsement.  

He also had a chance to watch Jake Rudock in practice and Rudock’s skill set is much more in line with what Iowa has traditionally put on the field in the Ferentz era.  Rudock’s skills were already at a higher level than Derby’s (by my estimation) and Derby still had a ‘baseball’ style throwing motion this fall; an over the top delivery that can really work against a quarterback.

Again, those are just my opinions.  If Derby winds up transferring to another school and winds up playing a position anywhere but quarterback, then we’ll need to reconsider everything I just tossed out.  If he goes somewhere else to play quarterback, my guess is that he just fashions himself as a college quarterback, knew that wasn’t going to happen at Iowa (where his brother is a tight end and where his father starred at linebacker in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s) and felt like now was the time to leave.

If he goes to the FCS level, he can play right away and would have three years of eligibility.  If he transfers to an FBS program, he’ll sit out next year and still have two to play.

9:45 PM UPDATE: HawkCentral.com reported Monday evening that Derby is likely headed to Coffeyville, KS, a Junior College, and will play quarterback. This reinforces everything I wrote earlier, as he wants to show colleges what he can do as a quarterback in order to have a ‘pick’ of schools next December as a recruitable athlete. In fact, if this comes to pass and he doesn’t transfer directly to an FCS or FBS program, it’s the ‘smoking gun’ that leads you to realize he thinks he can be an FBS level quarterback.

You can’t begrudge anyone for chasing a dream. I’d also speculate that this isn’t a decision that Derby just arrived at. I think he does love Iowa, as the program has meant a lot to his family. He didn’t quit in the middle of the season when he realized he would not be able to have a shot at his goal of playing quarterback for the school he loved. He stayed, played special teams and was available to play linebacker in the event of emergency injury situations. I wish him the best of luck and it will be interesting to see how he does as a college quarterback.

  • Jethro1hawkfan

    John, you can say what you want, I think its a sinking ship and the players are jumping off before they drown.  I will be guessing but if feels like more players will be leaving shortly.  I hope I am wrong.   

    • Anonymous

      Jethro, after I wrote this the Press Citizen reported that Derby will likely be going to Coffeyville Juco to play QB…that tells me that he wants one year to show his QB skills so that he can have more options of where to play his final two years…as a QB. This is everything to do with his not giving up on his dream of playing QB in college and he knows that is not going to happen at Iowa.

      • Ed Biggenz

        Agreed, Jon.  Jethro, I will come around to your way of thinking if some key verbals decide not to sign their letter with Iowa.  Sounds like they don’t anticipate that happening.

        • Jethro1hawkfan

          Hey, I don’t want this program to destroy itself within.  I am a Hawkfan for life but it is our duty, the public, to be critical when the program starts to slide in a negative trend.  The last time I checked we are in a negative slide. 
          RMC, comparing our program to PSU or OSU is a little unfair due to we haven’ won a single national championship.  We haven’t won the right to be put in that category.  One Orange bowl win doesn’t cut it!   So big guy take off the blinders, put down the kool aid and start taking a long look in the mirror.  I will not take a back seat to a program that should be in a top tier program level!  So call me a hateful fan because I realy don’t care.  I want this program to succeed because my season ticket prices are not getting any cheaper!
          John, thanks for the reply!  I really thought AJ would have been a better LB than his dad and thats a bold statement!

          • Jwc10102003

            You are right – we are not in the same class as PSU and OSU.  The ends do not justify the means in my opinion.   

  • John Runde

    Derby can only do Iowa so much good as a QB, assuming that was the reason. Look at Marvin McNutt, he trusted in the coaches and look where it got him. As long as J. Johnson doesn’t withdraw from this year’s class, I think people can remain far, far away from the panic buttom.

  • Rmcdonald422

    People need to relax.  We have 2 quarterbacks in line that are better than Derby.  He won’t move positions, so he’s transferring to a JUCO.

    “Sinking ship”?  Gimme a break!  We have a good recruiting class and the only reason there are any questions if they will all sign is because negative Iowa fans spewing hate are giving commits a second thought about coming here after hearing how “great our fans are”.  This year, they were great at having unrealistic expectations and freaking out over things that happen to every program.  How about this – you are a FAN.  Cheer the team on and stay positive.  But, I’m asking the impossible because that’s what today’s Iowa fans do best – complain.It’s funny, with the scandals at OSU, PSU, and other schools, Iowa fans get all worked up over a couple of transfers and “THE PROGRAM IS MELTING DOWN”, “FIRE KIRK”, “SINKING SHIP”.  Based on nothing more than skewed perception.  If we beat ISU and Minnesota (2 games lost by the closest of margins) no one would even care.

    Luckily, the people in charge have a better head on their shoulders and can keep things in perspective.

    • Brusty

      rmc   Very well put.  Go Hawks

    • hawk4ever

      You must be a cyclone fan!! Get with it and face the music what is going on in IC is UNREAL!! See it happining anywhere else NO and for 4 mil a year I want that job.

  • hawk4ever

    Unreal!! John its time to step up and stop backing Kirk and coaches lets face it The staff has failed fans and players. for almost 4 million a year and we get this. No coaches speak about any of this stuff. Time for a change a multi million dollar change. Barta should exit as well. Unreal!!!

  • Hawkfan56

    Look…  I am as big a Hawkeye fan as there is….  BUT…..  would any other major programs put up with all that has happened to our football program???  In other major conferences,  ADs are bouncing head football coaches for less than what has happened here.  Look at all the the players that have left…  for whatever reason…..  I know that it isn’t all on the coaches,  but seriously….  if Kirk is one of the highest paid coaches in the nation,  shouldn’t our program reflect that???  I am not forgetting what he has done…..  but seriously…….It could be a rough couple of years……..

  • Jwc10102002

    I have one word that is playing in Derby’s head right now, “Tebow”

    I will also say in defense of Derby wanting to play QB – our two Big Ten Championships in the last 10+ years were with mobile quarterbacks.  Without that added dimension Ken O’Keefe’s formula can be successful but not Chamipionship level.  Excellent defense goes without saying as well under the current system – wait – I just said it. 

  • nzhawkeye

    The next person that needs to leave starts with Ken and ends with O’Keefe

  • Bo

    ZZZZZZZ…..no story here.  Jake C transferred when he realized he was not going to play.  This happens every day at every program.  

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