Goalkeeper Josh Barnes signed his first professional contract in May 2016 – penning a one-year contract – after a successful two-year scholarship with the club.
A near mainstay between the posts for the Under 18s in 2015/16, he also featured on one occasion for Derby’s then Under 21s as they went on to gain promotion as champions.
Barnes, a former Aston Villa youngster, also ventured out on loan to enhance his football experience at Mickleover Sports and will now be a permanent member of the Under 23s squad over the 2016/17 season.
Derby County moved to complete the signing of Slovakian youth international goalkeeper Henrich Ravas in January 2016.
The 19-year-old custodian joined Derby after spending time with both Sky Bet League 1 side Peterborough United and National League North outfit Boston United on non-contract terms.
Ravas linked up with the Rams off the back of an impressive first half of the season at Boston, where he earned rave reviews for his performances.
An international for Slovakia at Under 19 level, Ravas penned a two-and-a-half year deal and, following a spell training with the Rams, immediately linked up with the then Under 21s squad – playing in the last few games to help the squad lift the Division 2 title at the end of the 2015/16 season.
Commanding centre half Alex Cover secured his first professional contract at Derby County in March 2016 following a string of impressive displays for Derby’s then Under 21s and Under 18s.
Cover became a regular feature in the Under 21s squad that were promoted as champions at the end of the 2015/16 season.
A captain during his two-year scholarship, Cover was seen as a key figure for the Under 18s, which lead to him earning an early promotion to the Under 21s squad.
The youngster made his first team bow in a pre-season friendly encounter against Portuguese giants Benfica in the Algarve Football Cup in July 2016.
A product of the Derby County Academy, Rawson was handed a professional contract by the Rams in the summer of 2014 after two years as a scholar.
A commanding centre-half with a strong and powerful presence, Rawson had impressed in Derby’s Under 18s and was part of the side that progress to the FA Youth Cup Quarter Finals in 2013.
His solid start to the 2014/15 season for Derby’s Under 21 side saw him called up to the first-team squad for the Capital One Cup Second Round tie with Charlton Athletic in August 2014, where he was an unused substitute.
In order to aid his development Rawson enjoyed two loan spells at fellow Championship side Rotherham United – firstly during the second half of the 2014/15 season and then during the first half of the 2015/16 campaign.Calum Macdonald
Rewarded for a strong two-year scholarship, Calum Macdonald earned his first professional contract after helping Derby County’s then Under 21s squad to the Division 2 title.
The full back made his full debut for the squad in February 2016 in a 2-1 win at Wolves and was a near mainstay for the rest of the season as the Rams went on to be promoted.
Combining that with a number of impressive appearances for the Under 18s squad, the 2015/16 season proved to be hugely successful for the defender.
England Under 17 international Kyron Stabana signed his first professional contract with Derby County in May 2016 to continue his rise through the club’s academy.
The defender has had, and taken, a number of opportunities to impress, both at club and national level, since joining the Rams at the age of seven - with his latest venture seeing him play a key role for the Rams’ Under 21s squad over the course of the 2015/16 season.
He chipped in with a match-winning strike at home to Wolves and was a prominent figure, showing his versatility by playing both right and left back, to help the Under 21s lift the Division 2 title last term.
A strong start to the 2015/16 season, in which he was a regular face at the heart of defence at just 17, saw Ethan Wassall earn his first professional contract in October 2015.
A towering defender, having been converted from a winger, Wassall also captained Derby’s Under 18s squad and struck up a strong partnership with Alex Cover.
Injury ended his 2015/16 season prematurely, but he made his comeback to the Under 23s squad for the start of the 2016/1 campaign.
Derby County completed the signing of promising wideman Alefe Santos during the summer of 2014.
The winger agreed a two-year deal with the Rams, with the option of a further year, after turning down the offer of a new contract with Bristol Rovers.
He had attracted interest from a number of clubs and was offered the chance to play in the Premier League, but after holding discussions with Derby, Santos committed his future to the club.
Part of Derby’s then Under 21 squad, Santos impressed in the early weeks of the 2014/15 season and was handed his first-team debut as a second-half substitute in Derby’s Capital One Cup Second Round tie against Charlton Athletic in August 2014.
He continued his development in January 2015 by joining League 1 Notts County on loan for a month, where he made three appearances, before returning to Derby.
After showing his versatility by playing in a number of positions and helping the then Under 21s squad become champions, Santos signed a new one-year contract ahead of the 2016/17 pre-season campaign with the club in a bid to extend his development.
Tricky wideman Kellan Gordon penned his first professional contract with Derby County in October 2015 after a strong start to the 2015/16 season.
The former Stoke City youngster hit the grounding running with the Under 18s squad – impressing in eight of their first nine fixtures – to earn a call up to the then Under 21s matchday squad.
He travelled with the squad to Valencia for a mid-season tour of Spain, but saw his campaign put on a hold after suffering a knee injury.
He returned to help the Under 21s squad claim the Division 2 title upon making his comeback and carried his form on into pre-season ahead of the 2016/17 campaign by representing the first team at Chesterfield.
Central midfielder Callum Guy signed professional terms with Derby County in February 2015 to step up to the Under 21 squad on a permanent basis.
He has progressed right the way through the ranks in the Academy, after joining Derby at the age of nine.
Since switching to the central midfield position at Under 16 level, after initially starting out as a winger, Guy has blossomed in his new role.
He also took on the responsibility of being Captain for the Under 18s’ FA Youth Cup Third Round victory at Brighton & Hove Albion in December 2014.
He impressed with a number of fine displays and goals for Derby’s then Under 21 side prior to signing professional terms, including a well-taken brace in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa.
Guy was, again, a near ever present and played an influential role as the squad went on to be promoted as champions at the end of the 2015/16 season and his performances saw him named as the Under 21 Player of the Year.
Timi Max Elsnik
Slovenia-born attacking midfielder Elsnik joined Derby County in the summer of 2015 and has really caught the eye since his arrival.
He had spent some time on trial with Derby’s then Under 21 side during the back end of the 2014/15 campaign and impressed enough to win a contract.
Previously with NK Aluminij Kidricevo, Elsnik can play in a number of midfield positions.
He has also represented his country at international level and, as of May 2015, was a regular face in the Slovenia Under 17 squad and has since stepped up to the Under 19s squad.
Elsnik was a key figure in the then Derby Under 21s squad that was promoted as champions to Premier League 2 Division 1 for the 2016/17 season and was named as the club’s Scholar of the Year at the end of season awards dinner.
His performances during pre-season saw him called up to the first team squad by Nigel Pearson, before he went on to be rewarded with a first team squad number on the eve of the Rams’ EFL Cup Round One meeting with Grimsby Town and a new three-year contract.
He then made his first-team debut towards the end of August 2016 as a substitute in Derby’s EFL Cup Round Two tie against Carlisle United, scoring the winner in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Alex Babos crowned a personally strong scholarship at Derby County by signing a two-and-a-half year professional contract in March 2016.
The young Rams forward particularly impressed over the 2015/16 season and produced a number of strong displays with the club’s Under 18s, earning himself a reputation as a key figure with the squad.
Babos, who joined the Rams academy at the age of 15, has also experienced success at Under 21 level, featuring for the promotion chasing side on a number of occasions over the 2015/16 term.
Derby County recruited the services of striker Charles Vernam in 2012 from Scunthorpe United, signing him on a two-year scholarship from the beginning of the 2013/14 campaign.
In the summer of 2015 he turned professional, stepping up to Derby’s Under 21 squad on a permanent basis after showing plenty of promise and potential.
During his two-years as a scholar he impressed in Derby’s Under 18 side, finding the back of the net on a regular basis and striking up a positive understanding with fellow forward Offrande Zanzala.
His form also led to a call-up to the Under 21 side on a handful of occasions during the 2014/15 season.
The following year proved to be a unique one for the forward. Having been a consistent figure in the then Derby Under 21s squad that lifted the Division 2 title, Vernam enhanced his footballing education by heading out to Iceland for a loan spell with Íþróttabandalag Vestmannaeyja (usually referred to as ÍBV).
He featured on 12 occasions in Iceland’s top flight in what proved to be a hugely fruitful loan spell.
Academy graduate Mason Bennett only turned 20 in July 2016, but already he has been on the first-team scene at Derby County for a number of years.
The powerful striker is tipped for a promising future in professional football and has broken a number of Derby’s club records already.
He was named on the substitutes bench for the Rams' 3-2 Carling Cup defeat to Shrewsbury Town in August 2011 and although he didn't get on, he didn't have to wait too much longer to make his first team bow and make history.
At just 15 years and 99 days old Bennett became Derby’s youngest ever player when he was named in the starting line-up in a 2-0 defeat at Middlesbrough in October 2011. He hit the crossbar at the Riverside Stadium and impressed with a lively display in attack - but it wasn't a surprise to the Rams' coaching staff after an impressive run of form for Derby's Under-18s.
He made nine first-team appearances in total by the end of the campaign, as well as eight during the 2012/13 season and became Derby County’s youngest-ever goalscorer when he scored the first-ever goal of his career in a 5-0 FA Cup Third Round home win over Tranmere Rovers in January 2013.
At the age of 17 he scored his first-ever league goal in September 2013 to round off the scoring in Derby’s 5-1 win at Millwall, in 15 first-team appearances. He also spent time on loan at League 2 Chesterfield to gain vital experience, and came off the bench at Wembley Stadium in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final against Peterborough United in April 2014.
In 2014/15 injuries and experienced players ahead of him in the pecking order limited him to two appearances off the bench for the first-team, while he also gained further match experience during a loan spell at League 1 Bradford City.
Bennett has represented England at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-19 level to continue his development.
The 2015/16 season ultimately proved fruitful for the powerful forward until the very end.
He formed a formidable partnership with Offrande Zanzala as the Rams’ then Under 21s squad claimed the Division 2 title, whilst he also linked up with Burton Albion – playing on 16 occasions as the Brewers were promoted to the Championship for the first time in their history.
Promising striker Offrande Zanzala signed professional terms with Derby County in March 2015.
Zanzala hails from Democratic Republic of the Congo but moved to Europe as a young child, and then moved to England at the age of eight before he joined the Rams as a schoolboy at the age of 12.
Since then, he has flourished in Derby’s Academy and, as well as developing his game, he has found the back of the net on a regular basis.
He was named as Scholar of the Year for 2014/15 - in addition to making a handful of appearances for the Under 21s before the season was out.
The 2015/16 campaign saw the powerful and pacey forward merely maintain his form as he quickly adjusted to life at Under 21 level and was named as the Barclays U21 Player of the Month in November after scoring four goals in three outings.
He played a key role as the side went on to lift the Division 2 title, with his displays earning him regular call ups to training sessions with the first team squad.
Derby County completed a deal to sign highly-rated young forward Lewis Walker from Ilkeston FC in January 2016.
Despite competition from several Barclays Premier League and Sky Bet Championship clubs, the Rams tied up a deal for the youngster, the son of former England defender Des Walker.
One of the stars of the Robins’ youth system, Walker, scored five goals to help Ilkeston reach the Third Round of the FA Youth Cup lin 2014/15, where they bowed out after a narrow 3-2 defeat to Newcastle United.
His form with the Ilkeston youth groups saw him make his first team debut in the EVO-STIK Northern Premier League in October 2015.
Following his move, Walker was a regular feature for Derby’s Under 18s, but the 2016/17 season saw him step up to the Under 23s squad on a permanent basis.
Emil Riis Jakobsen
Derby County moved to complete the signing of highly-rated Danish striker Emil Riis Jakobsen from Randers on three-year professional contract back in July of 2015.
Jakobsen, who has represented Denmark at Under 17 and 16 level, linked up with the Rams after impressing on a two-week trial towards the end of the 2014/15 campaign.
Jakobsen predominantly made his name from Randers in his homeland’s Under 17 Nationwide league, where he has finished as the top goalscorer in each of his previous two seasons – netting 17 in his first, before eclipsing that 24 goals in the following campaign.
After bagging a number of goals for Derby’s Under 18s, he made a permanent step up the club’s Under 23s squad ahead of the 2016/17 season.
Tom Mellors signed his first professional contract with Derby County in May 2016.
He had been left hugely frustrated after missing a large proportion of the 2015/16 season through injury, limiting his chances to showcase his undoubted ability with the club’s Under 18s side.
Despite that, the Rams’ academy staff saw enough in Mellors to give him a one-year professional contract – giving him the opportunity to prove himself with the Under 23s over the course of the 2016/17 season.