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Notre Dame 99-to-2: No. 12 Ian Book, quarterback


Listed Measurements: 6-foot, 205 pounds
2017-18 year, eligibility: Sophomore with four years of eligibility remaining including the 2017 season.
Depth chart: Entering spring practices, some wondered who would back up junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Would senior Montgomery VanGorder’s time invested make the difference? Would freshman Avery Davis need to arrive and be immediately ready for action? Could Book prove himself worthy of being one play away from taking snaps? Book could and did just that.
Recruiting: When former Irish offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford arrived from Boise State in 2015, he already had a quarterback target in mind. Sanford’s recruitment landed Book, a consensus three-star prospect and the No. 15 pro-style quarterback in the country per, who still held an offer from Boise State as well as Washington State.

Book preserved a year of eligibility in 2016. For that matter, so did Wimbush. One could argue the understudy outperformed the starter in the spring’s Blue-Gold Game, though the understudy was also competing against the second-team defense whereas Wimbush faced Notre Dame’s starters.

Book in Blue-Gold Game: 18-of-25 for 271 yards passing and one touchdown.
Wimbush in Blue-Gold Game: 22-of-32 for 303 yards passing and one rushing touchdown.

Following Book’s impressive performance in the spring finale, Irish coach Brian Kelly indicated it was consistent with the displays from the majority of the previous 14 practices, reassuring the Notre Dame coaching staff it had a viable contingency plan should Wimbush suffer an injury.

“Consistency, throws strikes, rarely misses an open receiver, can see the field very well, runs the offense very well,” Kelly said in describing the positives Book had shown. “… Having that No. 2 and seeing him perform the way he has this spring, for me, has been one of the big stories. And Ian has done this all spring.

“.. You could point to [Book’s] performance today and say it was a surprise — it wasn’t a surprise to me. He’s shown that. I thought he would go out and play really well. I’m glad he did.”

Unless the sky is falling, Book is wearing a redshirt. And that’s the best thing for him — even if he’ll prepare as the emergency No. 3, a duty Wimbush was pushed into last year.

“A look at Notre Dame’s depth chart and the war chest of talent accumulated at the position makes these next five years look like an uphill climb to get onto the field. But until Book steps foot on campus, all bets are off.

“Remember, [former Irish quarterback and current Notre Dame quarterbacks coach] Tommy Rees entered Notre Dame with two other quarterbacks at his position, both rated better than him by recruiting analysts. But it was Rees that pushed past the five-star recruit already on campus for two seasons and his two classmates.

“Of course, DeShone Kizer, Malik Zaire and Brandon Wimbush aren’t Dayne Crist, Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa. But until we see Book at the college level, it’s a wait and see proposition.

“But the freshman has a key role on the 2016 team. Even if everybody hopes he won’t have to do it.”

Book will backup Wimbush. That also means, Book will play this season. By no means is that a prediction Wimbush will suffer an injury, though that is obviously possible. Rather, it is a prediction Kelly will get Book into a game the first chance he has, quite likely in the second half against Temple if the Irish lead is cushion enough.

Getting Book a few reps then, or perhaps two weeks later at Boston College (reminder: Sept. 16 features a noon ET kickoff), will help calm any nerves for when he may have to step in for Wimbush in a competitive situation. Perhaps Wimbush rolls an ankle a few minutes before halftime against North Carolina or maybe he takes a shot to the head against North Carolina State. Either scenario would force Book to move the offense forward without missing a step in what should be tight games.

There is no reason to think Book could not be a solid starting quarterback for the Irish. There is also no reason to expect Wimbush will falter over the next two or three seasons. Davis has given every reason to believe he will be ready to contribute in a year. Then there are promising high schoolers Phil Jurkovec (class of 2018 commitment; Pine-Richland High School, Gibsonia, Pa.) and Cade McNamara (class of 2019 commitment; Damonte Ranch H.S., Reno, Nev.).

Rees, Kelly and offensive coordinator Chip Long have plenty to work with at quarterback, obscuring any projection of Book’s future. In that respect, Sanford’s departure to take over the Western Kentucky program may have hurt Book the most. He was, at least more than anybody else, Sanford’s guy, though he would still not have started over Wimbush in 2017. Then again, perhaps Rees sees a better version of his younger self when he looks at Book.

Whenever Wimbush leaves Notre Dame, Book will get his chance to lead the Irish offense, but he will have to hold off at least Davis to do it, if not also Jurkovec and maybe even McNamara. If Wimbush stays through 2019 for a fifth year, Book would be entering his own fifth year in 2020, with Davis having two seasons of eligibility remaining, Jurkovec three and McNamara four as a sophomore, theoretically speaking.

2017’s Notre Dame 99-to-2
Friday at 4: Goodbye A-to-Z, hello 99-to-2 (May 12)
No. 99: Jerry Tillery, defensive tackle
No. 98: Andrew Trumbetti, defensive end
No. 97: Micah Dew-Treadway, defensive tackle
No. 96: Pete Mokwuah, defensive tackle
No. 95: Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 92)
No. 94: Darnell Ewell, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 95)
No. 93: Jay Hayes, defensive end
No. 92: Jonathon MacCollister; defensive end (originally theorized as No. 46)
No. 91: Ade Ogundeji, defensive end
No. 89: Brock Wright, tight end
No. 88: Javon McKinley, receiver
No. 87: Michael Young, receiver (originally theorized as No. 84)
No. 86: Alizé Mack, tight end
No. 85: Tyler Newsome, punter
No. 84: Cole Kmet, tight end (originally theorized as No. 90)
No. 83: Chase Claypool, receiver
No. 82: Nic Weishar, tight end
No. 81: Miles Boykin, receiver
No. 80: Durham Smythe, tight end
No. 78: Tommy Kraemer, right tackle
No. 77: Brandon Tiassum, defensive tackle
No. 76: Dillan Gibbons, offensive lineman (originally theorized as No. 65)
No. 75: Josh Lugg, offensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 73)
No. 75: Daniel Cage, defensive tackle
No. 74: Liam Eichenberg, right tackle
No. 72: Robert Hainsey, offensive tackle
No. 71: Alex Bars, offensive lineman
No. 70: Hunter Bivin, offensive lineman
No. 69: Aaron Banks, offensive lineman
No. 68: Mike McGlinchey, left tackle
No. 67: Jimmy Byrne, offensive lineman
No. 58: Elijah Taylor, defensive tackle
No. 57: Trevor Ruhland, offensive lineman
No. 56: Quenton Nelson, left guard
No. 55: Jonathan Bonner, defensive lineman
No. 54: John Shannon, long snapper
No. 53: Sam Mustipher, center
No. 53: Khalid Kareem, defensive lineman
No. 48: Greer Martini, inside linebacker
No. 47: Kofi Wardlow, defensive end
No. 45: Jonathan Jones, inside linebacker
No. 44: Jamir Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman
No. 42: Julian Okwara, defensive end
No. 41: Kurt Hinish, defensive tackle (originally theorized as No. 94)
No. 40: Drew White, linebacker
No. 39: Jonathan Doerer, kicker (originally theorized as No. 52)
No. 38: Deon McIntosh, running back/receiver
No. 35: David Adams, linebacker
No. 34: Tony Jones, Jr., running back
No. 33: Josh Adams, running back
No. 32: D.J. Morgan, safety
No. 30: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, rover
No. 29: Kevin Stepherson, receiver
No. 28: Nicco Fertitta, safety
No. 27: Julian Love, cornerback
No. 26: Ashton White, safety
No. 25: Jafar Armstrong, receiver (originally theorized as No. 87)
No. 24: Nick Coleman, safety
No. 23: Drue Tranquill, rover
No. 22: Asmar Bilal, rover
No. 21: Jalen Elliott, safety
No. 19: Justin Yoon, kicker
No. 18: Troy Pride, cornerback
No. 17: Isaiah Robertson, safety
No. 16: Cameron Smith, receiver
No. 15: C.J. Holmes, running back
No. 14: Devin Studstill, safety
No. 13: Avery Davis, quarterback
No. 13: Jordan Genmark Heath, safety

No. 66: Tristen Hoge, offensive lineman, transfers to BYU
No. 50: Parker Boudreaux, offensive lineman
No. 30: Josh Barajas, linebacker, to transfer to Illinois State

No. 13: Tyler Luatua, tight end, career ended by medical hardship