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Ferentz dodges question about Derby switching positions

[ 4 ] October 19, 2011 |

There have been rumors and speculation since the day he signed with Iowa that quarterback A.J. Derby eventually would switch positions.

That switch might be happening now.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz avoided the subject Wednesday on his radio call-in show.

“A.J. is a guy that can play several positions,” Ferentz said on the show. “At the end of the day, we want to put him where he’ll help the team.”

The 6-foot-4, 232-pound redshirt freshman could provide depth at a position that has been hit hard by injuries this season. Iowa plays Indiana at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Derby just finished serving a two-game suspension for his arrest on charges of public intoxication and fourth-degree criminal mischief.

He was Iowa’s No. 2 quarterback before the suspension, but Ferentz refused to say Tuesday if that still were the case.

“We’ll see how it goes this week, but he’s back with us full speed,” Ferentz said.

Ferentz praised Derby for performing well as the scout-team quarterback over the past two weeks while serving the suspension.

“He did a really job the last two weeks,” Ferentz said. “In fact, he was one of the guys running around and throwing the ball against our defense, sometimes too good of a job.

“So we’ll see.”

Derby, a former City High star, emerged as the No. 2 quarterback behind junior James Vandenberg during spring practice and fall training camp.

His rise to No. 2 on the depth chart quelled the rumors about him switching positions until reports surfaced on the internet Wednesday morning that Derby now was practicing at linebacker.

Derby mainly played quarterback his last two seasons at City, leading the Little Hawks to the Class 4A state title in 2009.

But he also played linebacker, defensive end and safety in high school, and was a receiver before switching to quarterback.

Iowa has been hit hard by injuries at linebacker. Middle linebacker James Morris missed last Saturday’s 41-31 victory over Northwestern with an ankle injury.

Senior Bruce Davis had been Morris’ backup, but left the team after the Pitt game.

Senior Tyler Nielsen switched from outside to middle linebacker for the Northwestern game, but there are online reports that Nielsen broke his fingers against the Wildcats.

Ferentz would neither confirm nor deny the report, but Nielsen was seen Tuesday heading to the Iowa Football Complex with one of his hands heavily wrapped.

On Wednesday, Ferentz bristled when Hawk Talk host Gary Dolphin brought up Nielsen’s reported surgery on Sunday morning.

“Where is all this coming from?” Ferentz said. “We have guys banged up right now. They all have the chance to play.”

Ferentz indicated he talked to Nielsen on Wednesday evening and he was planning to play.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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