Notre Dame QB commit Ian Book impressed by Irish

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Ian Book spent his fair share of time in front of the television this fall. He has Notre Dame to thank for that.

The Irish quarterback commit made sure to schedule weekly viewings of Notre Dame games on Saturdays and episodes of the Showtime documentary following the Irish on Tuesdays.

And until this week, Book was doing so while playing a senior season of his own. His high school career came to an end last Friday night when El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Oak Ridge lost in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals.

The next day, Notre Dame suffered a heartbreaking loss in its regular season finale at Stanford. Though both fell short of their ultimate goals, Book and Notre Dame put together productive seasons.

“They had a good season and I think they'll still get in a good bowl game and get the win against whoever their playing,” Book said. “The best thing they did was have the next man up because they had a lot of injuries. A lot of guys stepped up."

Few stood taller than sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer, who transformed from first-time starter following Malik Zaire’s season-ending injury into arguably the most valuable player on Notre Dame’s offense. 

Count Book among those who Kizer impressed this season.

“He did really well,” Book said. “His best thing is he looked so calm and so confident when he stepped in. He really took advantage of his opportunity. He's a good quarterback."

Watching Kizer succeed reaffirmed Book’s thoughts of head coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Sanford and their ability to groom quarterbacks.

"It shows how coach Kelly and coach Sanford had him prepared and ready to step in whenever that may be,” Book said. “All the quarterbacks there have the confidence to step in and do what he did."

In the same way Kizer’s ability was questioned as a backup quarterback before this season, Book’s standing as a quarterback prospect has drawn question marks of its own. As a three-star recruit, Book has a lower rating than Kizer, Zaire and freshman Brandon Wimbush as a high school senior and his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame is vastly different than Kizer at 6-4, 230.

But Book proved to be a highly productive quarterback this season. He completed 224 of his 346 passes (65 percent) for 3,049 yards and 30 touchdowns with only five interceptions. In running a spread offense for the first time, Book also focused on improving as a dual-threat quarterback. He did so by rushing 129 times for 779 yards and 12 touchdowns.

On Monday, Book hosted Kelly and Sanford for an in-home visit. He became the first in-home visit for the two coaches as the contact period started this week.

“It was so cool just to be able to have them at my house with my family, have dinner and talk about football, life and everything. It was so awesome."

The conversation did not include Sanford’s name being connected to head coaching positions at several schools including Syracuse and Virginia.

Though Book was previously quoted by Irish Illustrated as saying Sanford reassured him that he was staying at Notre Dame, Book said Thursday he has not asked Sanford directly about leaving for another school.

Book said the discussions he has had with Sanford prior to Monday’s visit have led him to believe that Sanford isn’t going anywhere.

“I believe that he'd stay,” Book said. “I think he loves the job he has and where he's at right now.”

And that’s where Book plans to be in June. He remains verbally committed with the Irish and plans to sign a letter-of-intent in February.

In the coming months, Book will continue to focus on preparing himself for Notre Dame. Despite playing lacrosse for the last eight years, Book has decided to quit the sport with his college football career on the horizon. He plans to work with quarterback coach Will Hewlett in Livermore, Calif., — nearly two hours from Book’s home — multiple times a month.

Notre Dame quarterback commit Ian Book threw for 30 touchdowns and rushed for 12 more in his senior season at El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Oak Ridge. (Photo courtesy of Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer)