Fayetteville, Ark. – Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema may have accomplished a first at Arkansas when he convinced A.J. Derby to walk-on at Arkansas.
Getting a player to walk-on at Arkansas is not unheard of but getting a former 4-star athlete to walk-on after a successful stint at Coffeyville Community College and after two years at the University of Iowa may make Derby the first 4-star walk-on in Arkansas history.
Derby, from Iowa City, IA, was listed as a 4-star athlete coming out of the high school ranks for the 2010 recruiting class. At 6’4”, 218 pounds, Derby was considered a project at quarterback but projected to be a strong tight end or linebacker prospect at the Division-I level. He was offered scholarships by many top programs in the nation including Alabama, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Stanford, and to little surprise Wisconsin. In the end Derby decided to stay in-state picking Iowa as his school of choice.
Iowa released Derby from his scholarship in January of 2012 then he enrolled at Coffeyville Community College to try his hand at playing time under center. Derby completed 149 of 321 pass attempts for 1,935 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He carried a 193.5 yards per game passing totals in 10 games this season. He also rushed for 194 yards with four touchdowns in 2012.
Derby will have a familiar face on campus with fellow Red Ravens player linebacker Martell Spaight. Spaight, originally from North Little Rock, was named First-Team NJCAA All-American earlier this month before signing with the Hogs earlier this month.
How Bielema will use Derby going forward remains to be seen. Several programs were still trying to recruit him as a linebacker including Iowa State. Houston was the only program that offered Derby a scholarship as a quarterback after his season at Coffeyville.
The redshirt sophomore will have two years of eligibility once he begins playing for the Razorbacks.