116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY -- For a linebacker or a defensive end or a tight end or whatever, A.J. Derby had a nice day at quarterback.
The 6-foot-4, 232-pound redshirt freshman completed 9 of 11 passes for 115 yards during Iowa's spring scrimmage Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. Given the specious nature of tackling, Derby might've had a 57-yard TD pass to wide receiver Black Haluska or a 7-yard completion when two defensive backs swatted at him.
Either way, positive steps for Derby, who has pulled even with junior John Wienke in the race at No. 2 quarterback, behind junior starter James Vandenberg. In extremely unscientific stats, Wienke went 2 of 11 for 25 yards and two interceptions.
"To me, it's pretty even right now," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "That'll probably get determined in August. The good news is I think both those guys have a chance to improve between now and then, but right now I think it's kind of even."
This triggered the "what exactly do you have there in Derby, coach" discussion.
But make no mistake, Derby is a quarterback. There's no talk of a position change, Ferentz said.
"[Offensive coordinator] Ken [O'Keefe] would tell you A.J. is a quick study," Ferentz said. "He's been adept at picking things up really early, from when he got here last spring [Derby enrolled early at Iowa and participated in spring drills last year]. He gives himself a chance. He's a good athlete, certainly, and his throwing has improved. He just needs a lot of work, too, in situations. That's work you can't get sitting in a meeting room."
Ferentz was asked if there was anything Derby could do to stop the position change movement.
"Probably start," Ferentz deadpanned. "Until then, we'll probably be speculating and all that kind of stuff. We see him as a quarterback and that's what he sees himself as and we're on board with that 100 percent.
"It's not like we have an eight-deep at quarterback. You guys saw we have three guys out there right now. They way we protected in the spring a couple of times, we might need eight quarterbacks."
Earlier this spring, Ferentz said the staff had approached Derby about playing special teams. It's something Ferentz said they'd consider.
"Just looking at him, he is a good athlete who I think could play other positions, certainly," Ferentz said. "That might be a decision we'll have to discuss. Last year, I think he could've been a good special teams player for us, but he was redshirting and that was the wise thing to do. Next year, it might be a discussion.
"Now, if he is the No. 2 guy, do you run that risk? All those things you've got to talk about, we'll see."