Iowa City High’s A.J. Derby keeps his options open

July 20, 2009
Iowa City High quarterback A. J. Derby carries the ball as Cedar Rapids Xavier's Steven Travis tries, unsuccessfully, to stop his progress during their game on Nov. 3, 2008, at City High School in Iowa City.

Iowa City High quarterback A. J. Derby carries the ball as Cedar Rapids Xavier's Steven Travis tries, unsuccessfully, to stop his progress during their game on Nov. 3, 2008, at City High School in Iowa City.

Iowa City High quarterback A.J. Derby compiles football scholarship offers like others his age collect football cards.

Derby, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior, has scholarship offers from Florida, Louisiana State, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Miami, Nebraska and several others — “I can’t list them all off but it’s a lot,” he said. Iowa also feverishly has targeted him.

“It’s just kind of wide open right now,” Derby said. “I plan on taking all of my official visits. So I’m going to wait until the school year, then narrow it down to five and decide where I’m going to take my officials.

“It’s wide open. I’m still talking to everyone.”

Derby hopes to take a few of his visits on Saturdays following Thursday night high school games. Iowa City High plays Thursday night games on Sept. 17, Sept. 24 and Oct. 22.

Derby played wide receiver and defensive back for Iowa City High as a sophomore before moving to quarterback last year. He completed 77 of 136 passes for 1,197 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing four interceptions. Derby also led Iowa City High in rushing with 1,064 yards on 168 attempts and scored 13 touchdowns.

With Derby’s frame and versatility, many wonder if colleges are recruiting Derby as a quarterback then switch him to tight end, linebacker or safety. Other speculation involves whether Derby could play the role of a running quarterback, like Florida’s Tim Tebow.

“Everyone is recruiting me for quarterback,” Derby said. “Some (schools want him as a running quarterback), and some don’t. Some want me to be a pocket passer. It’s kind of a little of both.”

Derby also faces outside pressure to remain with the hometown school, Iowa. His father, John, was an all-Big Ten linebacker at Iowa. His older brother, Zach, plays tight end at Iowa.

“They tell me to go Iowa all the time,” Derby said of his friends. “These coaches (baseball coaches from Cedar Rapids Kennedy) were trying to tell me to go to Iowa after the game. I’m kind of used to it.

“My dad just said do what you think is right for yourself and don’t just do what he wants, but do what I want.”

“I just try not to think about it too much and try to be a normal kid.”


ISU receives major payout from 2008 Iowa-ISU FB game

July 16, 2009
The Cy-Hawk Trophy donated by the Des Moines Athletic Club when Iowa State and Iowa resumed football competition in 1977.

The Cy-Hawk Trophy donated by the Des Moines Athletic Club when Iowa State and Iowa resumed football competition in 1977.

Iowa’s athletics department paid Iowa State $616,383.48 for its 2008 appearance at Kinnick Stadium, per the schools’ current football contract.

The payout exceeds Iowa State’s share from 2006 by more than $23,000 or the school’s share in 2004 by more than $35,000. The contract between the universities stipulates that the home school pay the visitor 20 percent in gate receipts after taxes.

Iowa State and Iowa agreed to a new contract in 2008 that lasts through 2017, but the terms change following the 2012 game. Beginning in 2013, the host school will keep all of the gate receipts.

The current arrangement favors Iowa State because of stadium capacity. Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium holds more than 70,000 fans, while Iowa State’s Jack Trice Stadium holds around 55,000. Iowa received $330,389 from Iowa State following the 2007 game in Ames, nearly half of what Iowa State took in last season. 

Iowa State also will benefit from earning the final 20 percent cut in 2012 and then keeping all of the gate in 2013.

This year Iowa State hosts Iowa Sept. 12. Individual tickets are available through Iowa’s ticket office for $92. Iowa State is offering a three-game package that includes Iowa, North Dakota State and Colorado beginning July 20 for $99. Iowa State also selling hillside-only tickets for $60.


Iowa picks up four-star offensive lineman

July 13, 2009

Ohio native and four-star recruit Andrew Donnal committed to Iowa this morning, HawkeyeReport.com reported this morning.

Donnal, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound offensive lineman, picked Iowa over several schools, including Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, according to the Web site. Rivals ranks him No. 127 on its national board.

“The main thing was I just felt really comfortable at Iowa every time that I visited,” Donnal told the Web site. “The coaches are great and the players have nothing but good things to say about it, so I think it’s going to be a great fit. Plus if you’re a lineman, Iowa is definitely one of the best places you can go.”


Sporting News’ Q&A with Shonn Greene

July 13, 2009

Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene talks with the Sporting News’ Bill Eichenberger about the upcoming season, his duties and comparing Iowa with the NFL.

The New York Jets drafted Greene with the first pick in the third round.

Here’s the link: Q&A … with Shonn Greene


Iwebema ‘confident’ after growth removal

July 1, 2009

Former Iowa and current Arizona Cardinals defensive end Kenny Iwebema said he’s fine after a growth was removed from his chest. Here’s a blog by Arizona Cardinals beat writer Darren Urban on Iwebema.


San Diego State officials to Ex-Hawk Chuck Long: We can’t quit you (but we’d like to)

June 28, 2009

San Diego State is desperately trying to rid itself of former Iowa great Chuck Long, who was fired as head coach last November. Here’s the story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.


Dominique Douglas’ letter from the Johnson County Jail

June 26, 2009
Former University of Iowa football player Dominique Douglas listens as his attorney speaks during his sentencing Friday, Jan. 25, 2008 at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City. Douglas received a deferred judgment and two years probation after pleading guilty to credit card fraud for an incident when he and former teammate Anthony Bowman purchased merchandise using stolen credit cards at two University of Iowa buildings on May 8, 2007. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Former University of Iowa football player Dominique Douglas listens as his attorney speaks during his sentencing Friday, Jan. 25, 2008 at the Johnson County Courthouse in Iowa City. Douglas received a deferred judgment and two years probation after pleading guilty to credit card fraud for an incident when he and former teammate Anthony Bowman purchased merchandise using stolen credit cards at two University of Iowa buildings on May 8, 2007. (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Yep, that’s right. Dominique Douglas was back in Iowa City after violating his probation. He was extradited from the Wayne County Jail in Detroit because he failed to send monthly reports, provide proof that he is enrolled in college or pay his fines.

Douglas was released from the Johnson County Jail on Thursday. He was fined $625 plus costs and given credit for time served. He was a rising star at Iowa following a 49-catch freshman season in 2006. He then was arrested for unauthorized use of a credit card, a felony. He pleaded guilty to credit card fraud, an aggravated misdemeanor. He was booted from the football team following an arrest for shoplifting DVDs at Wal-Mart.

Douglas was in the Wayne County Jail in Detroit on armed robbery charges. The outcome of that case is undetermined.

On June 3, Douglas wrote a letter to 6th Judicial District Judge Douglas Russell while he sat in the Johnson County Jail. The letter is public record, and I left in all grammatical errors but added paragraph breaks for easier reading. Here is a copy of it:

Dear Judge Russell,

I’m writing you today concerning the nature of my case. I take full responsibilities for my actions and understand all of the consequences. I’ve ask God to accept my challenges and guide me through life everyday. I knew that I am allowed to live my life as I please, to make mistakes and to learn from them. Doing so I’ve eliminated conflict and confrontation, because I have found out it is unnecessary to prove myself to anyone. Understand that everything I have done is done, regardless of my opinion about it. My past is over, and everything I have done has gotten me to the point I’m at this moment. Time has lost its importance in the linear sense, and I don’t feel compelled to keep track of when, where, and how fast I live my life.

Your honor this has happen to me without goals or objectives. I basically just stop referring to time and scheduling my life, and I’ve found that I’m more efficient as a result. During this time I’ve had an opportunity to think about where I see myself 5 years from now and how I plan to get there. I wanna give back to the communities and children who are unable to do certain things because of their disabilities. I really believe giving is why I am here. I’ve been working on detaching myself from the need to get something and instead focus on reaching out to others. Alot of deputies in Johnson County have pulled me to the side and told me it’s not over, it’s all about how you fight back. That meant alot to me because for a year now I’ve held a grudge with certain people because of my mistakes. Which hasn’t made sense at all.

But all this has help my progress of my growing into a man and understanding no one owes me anything. You have to work hard to get what you want in life. That’s why giving is the answer because I’m not concerned about what I get back, it’ll come in blessings. May 6, 2009, I was offered another full-ride scholarship to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri, another blessing in the sky for me. I finally have that second opportunity to get a fine education again, something I have been missing for two years now. Having been through all these situations in such a short amount of time, I’ve never been more ready. I also know that I have to get alot of things straighting out before I can move forward and I’m prepared for it. I only have two and a half years left of school before I earn my bachelors degree and one full-time semester to earn my associate’s.

It’s all about sacrifice now, leaving friends and family behind so that I can be a successful black african-american male. I’ll have three kids by November of this year, and I wanna be the best father I can be to them. It starts by me setting better examples, graduating from college, working for my family, being a real man. Your honor I thank you and the state of Iowa for all that you have done for me, you’ve helped me realize never to take anything for granted no matter what you’ve achieved or succeeded at! It could all be gone just like that, no matter how long you’ve worked for it.

Peaces and Blessings

Dominique M. Douglas


New York Jets ink Shonn Greene

June 15, 2009
Former Iowa running back Shonn Greene signed a contract today with the New York Jets, the team announced today. The Jets drafted Greene with the first pick in the third round in April’s NFL draft.

Terms were not disclosed. Here’s the story from the Jets’ Web site: http://www.newyorkjets.com/news/articles/show/3023-jets-third-rounder-greene-reach-agreement


ESPN adds Rose Bowl to its BCS domination

June 13, 2009

It looks like the tradition-rich Rose Bowl will make its ESPN debut in January 2011. Here’s the link:

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory?id=7824733


Interesting travel story of the year No. 1: Men’s hoops at Ohio State, football at Outback

June 11, 2009

schottenstein_centerThe wildest trip I took this season included seven cities in less than four days, more stops than former Miss California Carrie Prejean on a marriage preservation tour. There was anxiety and enjoyment. It included both Iowa football and basketball.

I originally slotted my basketball trips in late September. That included Iowa’s game at Ohio State, which was scheduled for 4 p.m. on Dec. 31. Yep, that’s right, New Year’s Eve. Well, I didn’t want to ring in 2009 in Columbus, Ohio so I scheduled a late-evening flight back to Cedar Rapids. I didn’t expect Iowa’s football team would make a New Year’s Day bowl game so I figured I’d just stick to basketball that day.

In early December, Iowa was selected to play in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1. I was interested in joining Gazette comrades Marc Morehouse and Mike Hlas in covering the event so I had to rearrange the flight pattern.

The best way I could get from Columbus to Tampa was via Charlotte. I had to leave Columbus at 7:50 p.m. for that flight, but with a 4 p.m. start, making that flight was difficult to say the least. But I tried it anyway.

I flew from Cedar Rapids to Chicago and then Columbus and arrived around midnight on Dec. 30. I staffed a basketball game that appeared to be a blowout in the first half with Ohio State leading 30-15. Then Iowa mounted a major comeback and took the lead in the second half. Needless to say, I was stressed. I wrote most of my story through the game. Iowa had one chance left but freshman Matt Gatens’ last-second three-pointer went astray and Ohio State won 68-65. Had Gatens, who had a great game, hit that shot, the game would have went into overtime and I would have missed my flight. Instead, I made my flight with a few minutes to spare.

I flew to Charlotte first then landed in Tampa around 12:30 a.m. on Jan. 1. Southern cities celebrate the New Year with fireworks, something that surprised me until I realized it’s about 50 degrees warmer there than in Iowa. So it was kind of cool to fly above the fireworks. On the flight to Tampa a depressed couple lamented that they had to kiss each other on the airplane serenaded with a New Year’s countdown by the pilot. Too bad for them.

staduim2By the time I got to the hotel after a stressful trip, it was 1:30 a.m. I arrived at Raymond James Stadium by 8:30 a.m. I watched Iowa beat the living daylights out of South Carolina. I relaxed for a few hours that night before waking at 3 a.m. for a 6 a.m. Eastern flight. I was entertained by the dozens of hungover Iowa fans at the airport, including an old high school friend who hadn’t been to bed since arriving on Dec. 31. Then it was on to Atlanta, St. Louis and then Cedar Rapids.

Sportswriters often get hit with comments like “aww, that must be rough” when we travel to cover teams. But none of those people had to staff a basketball game and make a flight within four hours away with a basketball arena 10 miles from the airport. But getting around one day in 70-degree weather in Tampa made it all worth it.


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