Tag Archives: score 2015

Smith, Derron

Card: Topps AAF Now 2019, Panini Prism 2015, Crown Royale 2015, Sage 2015, Score 2015, Topps XFL 2019,
Acquired: IP 2019, SA Commanders Team Signing Dick’s Sporting Goods at The Rim.
Ebay, 2020
TTM 2020, C/o Home
Sent: 7/13 Received: 7/24 (11 days)
Failure: TTM 2019, C/o The Minnesota Vikings

An all-star at Fresno State, Derron was named first team All WAC three times while playing for the Bulldogs. He pulled down 7 interceptions and 4 sacks in 2013, and 7 pass breakups and 80 tackles in 2014. Derron’s 15 career interceptions tied him for 5th on the school charts. A perfect storm emerged however with a hernia injury, (that caused Derron to miss the Senior Bowl and the combine,) and a bad pro day, which caused his draft day stock to drop. Scouts however, loved his ability to keep his eyes focused on the ball and the action in front of him, as well as his man cover skills.

Derron was selected in the 6th round in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He’d spend the next two seasons there, eventually landing on their practice squad in 2017, where he was signed off the Bengals by the Cleveland Browns. Over that period he got some game time experience posting 16 total tackles, a fumble recovery, and a pass deflection. Cut by the Browns in 2018, Derron kept in football shape, prepping for his next shot.

In late 2018, Derron got his next shot- An invitation to play for the new Alliance of American Football. He’d be traded by the Fleet to the San Antonio Commanders in December for Damontre Moore. The Commanders were already steeped in defensive secondary talent, and looking to add depth at safety alongside guys like Orion Stewart and Kurtis Drummond. Derron would also be coached in the secondary by longtime NFL veteran and ballhawk Bill Bradley.

“He’s quiet in the DB room, but he’s the one guy that the guys look to. He’s kind of the calming factor in a very raucous bunch of defensive backs on our team.”

– Commanders GM Daryl Johnston

Derron made a lot of noise near the end of camp, and actually didn’t even start until Week 3 of the 2019 AAF season against the Iron. From there on however, he was lights out.

Derron in Week 4 earned AAF Defensive Player of the Week Honors, when he single-handedly demolished the Arizona Hotshots. He’d pick off a John Wolford pass and race 66 yards the other direction for a TD to open up the scoring. Then later in the game, he’d pick off Wolford again as the Hotshots tried to claw their way back into the contest. The following week against the Legends, he stepped in front of an errant Aaron Murray pass late in the game, and took that pass 87 yards to paydirt.

On the season Derron finished with 22 solo stops, 11 combined tackles, 8 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions for 153 yards and 2 TDs. Although the league ceased operations after 8 contests, Smith was posthumously named the AAF Defensive Player of the Year by Pro Football Focus for his outstanding play.

“On 309 snaps in coverage, Smith led the league at any position on defense with his 93.2 coverage grade as he intercepted three passes and broke up another five. He stuck his head in on 37 total tackles and missed just three while his eight defensive stops were a top-10 figure among safeties. His prowess in the secondary for the Commanders make him a legitimate candidate to potentially land a spot in the NFL this next season.”

-Pro Football Focus (on naming Smith the AAF Defender of the Year)

Derron was snatched up by the XFL later that year, after spending training camp with the Minnesota Vikings. He’d be the first defender taken off the board by his former GM Daryl Johnston, who was now working with the Dallas Renegades.

In 5 games with Dallas, Derron had 15 tackles, and an interception before the XFL 2020 folded due to COVID concerns.

I had a giant stack of cards of Derron I wanted to get signed and with his amazing game against the Hotshots and Legends, he zoomed near the top of my favorite Commanders defensive players. I got most of these autographs in person at an event at The Rim, before Week 7. Annoyingly the Topps AAF Now card arrived the next week in the mail so I had the stress of firing out this $10.00 card out into the wind and hoping it came back.

So you’re probably wondering, “How’d you track down Derron?” Easy. I cross referenced his bio to Twitter and found where he was at attached to his profile. From there I used Advanced Background Checks- and he popped right up.

Derron replied in about 10 days, signing both his XFL and AAF Now cards and wrote me a nice note, thanking me for being a fan. I was pumped.

Orapko, Brian (2)

Cards: Panini UT 2015 Patch, Pacific 2009. Score 2009, Upper Deck 2009, Press Pass 2009, Topps 2012, Score 2015*, Panini UT 2015, Donruss 2015, Panini Threads 2011.
Acquired: IP 2018, GiGi’s Cupcakes Soft Grand Opening.
IP 2018, T-Mobile Player Event, IP 2018, Back to Camp GiGi’s event
* Future considerations Lance
See Also: Brian Orapko

Brian Orapko and Michael Griffin had been hitting the social media circuit for a bit talking up their new joint venture- GiGi’s Cupcakes. Apparently when they both played for the Titans in Nashville they got hooked on the confectionary treat and decided that they wanted to be franchisees. Brian and Michael had posted some great photos of them cutting their teeth and learning the ropes behind the construction of their store in Bee Cave. Both of the alluded to a grand opening ‘in a few weeks’, so I kept my eyes peeled for any updates along the way. I just so happened to check their feed after I got back from the Bastrop Boot Event, and found out that Griff and Rak had done a soft opening that very same day. I was a bit miffed. The next morning I called them up, and was told that they were open today and come on down.

I battled my way about 30 miles through the sometimes frozen rain to get there, but once I arrived I was greeted by a beaming Orapko and Griffin. (I was really shocked as the last time I saw Rak, he was a bit disgruntled, and begrudgingly gave me his autograph.) I decided to get a 4-pack (only reserving the Red Velvet for myself) and asking him to choose the remainder for me. He filled out the box nicely over small talk and rang me out. (Admittedly, it was a weird experience to have an NFL player working a register for me.)  We even got in a good laugh over their instagram, as I wholly expected somebody to be tossing dough in the back like they were making a pizza. Brian had no problem signing these 2 cards for me. Heck, I probably could’ve gotten him to sign a few more- he was in such a good mood.

Talking about going from worst to first. It was a great experience meeting him again. I even told him how I was hurt he signed with the Titans and not the Texans, and we had a good laugh at my expense over it. – And the best part: THE CUPCAKES WERE AMAZING.

Later in the year I caught up with Spoodog and his wife. I hadn’t seen them in quite sometime- either a Priest Holmes signing or a Cedric Griffin signing well over a year ago. A lot had changed for me with a baby taking need over anything else and his job just sort of precluded everything else. It was great catching up with them. In fact a whole host of people showed up I hadn’t seen in a while. This made the wait for Orakpo even easier. It wasn’t much of a line at the T-Mobile location, but it was frustrating because we were told the wrong location and shuttled back and forth until we got to the right place.

Rak was uneven at this event for me. I tried joking with him, and I let him know that I enjoyed the cupcakes, and heck that they may have been the first sugar my baby ever tasted, but I must have rubbed him the wrong way either through my joking manner or the fact that I asked him to sign 6 cards. I did give him a hard time about the Titans new uniforms. They look exactly like the CFL Toronto Argonauts. I took to calling them the Tennessee Argonauts. The pen also was giving up or he was signing lighter with each card. By the time he got to the Topps at the end, it was barely taking. He also was signing and just sort of tossing the cards at me. I felt pretty badly. Oh well… A few friends of mine asked for future considerations to get Orakpo.  Essentially what it means is that I’ll get the autograph free of charge, and they will look out for anybody me. I’m not picky as long as it is not in my collection already. (Lance and I have done these exchanges with regularity.) I went ahead and gave up the Score 2015- which I think looks terrible, and the Upper Deck 2009 Draft Edition, which I sorta wanted to keep- but this is how it goes. I hope these cards new homes appreciate them as much as I do.

Later I went to the Back to Camp event that Brian was holding at GiGi’s before he headed off to Tennessee for the year. Many Longhorns were invited, but since I got there early, and had little time I only managed to get Brian and Michael Huff. I felt badly about how I had treated Brian at the T-Mobile event. He either took it in good stride or had already forgotten about me ribbing him about the Texans. He signed 3 cards for me. Well really 2. He re-inked the Topps 2014 that came out really badly, looked over the Panini Triple Threads card, and then tossed in his Donruss 2015 Sample card. He was really informative about the process of the league. New coaches get a little bit more time and Coach Vrabel wanted them in Tennessee to get ready for the season as soon as possible. Brian and I also talked about the sample card. Apparently many companies offer the cards to the players when they come out. The Donruss card in particular was stamped/ imprinted on the back with the word ‘sample’ on it. Brian said that when he found out he had his first card, he was super excited because it was like a coming of age.

Brian signed with the Titans in 2015. By October of that season, he was already established as a team captain. He finished his first campaign in Nashville with 7 sacks, 38 tackles (13 ast), 5 passes defended, and a forced fumble.  2016, saw Rak establish near career highs with 10.5 sacks, 38 tackles (8 ast), 4 passes defended, and a forced fumble. While his numbers were slightly down in 2017, Brian finished with 30 tackles (10 ast), 7 sacks, 2 passes defended, and 3 forced fumbles. With new coach and former LB Mike Vrabel in town, it should be interesting to see how Brian’s numbers stack up in 2018.