Book embraces captain role

AUSTIN HOUGH | THE GOSHEN NEWSNotre Dame quarterback Ian Book throws a pass during practice Saturday in South Bend. Book was named one of seven captains for the 2019 season Saturday morning.

SOUTH BEND — Brian Kelly had an interesting way to describe his star quarterback following Notre Dame football’s sixth practice of fall camp Saturday.

“Ian’s personality is not one where … I don’t think he’s going to get many speeding tickets. He doesn’t live on the edge,” Kelly said.

That personality is fine for the Fighting Irish, as Ian Book returns for a second year as the starting quarterback for Notre Dame.

Unlike last season, where Book was battling Brandon Wimbush for the starting job in fall camp, there’s no doubt Book is at the top of the quarterback depth chart for the Irish. Wimbush won the starting job last fall, but was replaced by Book in week four. Wimbush transferred to Central Florida following the season.

I haven’t had a lot of familiarity with (an incumbent quarterback) here at Notre Dame. So, it’s kind of a nice feeling,” Kelly said.

Book will be more than a starting quarterback this year for Notre Dame. He will also be one of the team’s captain, which they named Saturday morning. Book, wide receiver Chris Finke, offensive lineman Robert Hainsey, safeties Alohi Gilman and Jalen Elliott, and defensive linemen Khalid Kareem and Julian Okwara will be the seven leaders for the Irish this season.

“It’s a true honor. Just from practice today, thinking about the list of captains we’ve had here at Notre Dame. Just truly honored to be a part of that list,” Book said. “I’m just ready to lead, and the other six captains — we’ve already talked, we’re all super excited. It’s a tremendous honor. We cannot wait for the season to start and lead these guys.”

Book mentioned that he’s been trying to lead this team since the season-ending loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinal last year. Becoming a captain was something the redshirt senior quarterback wanted.

“Definitely a goal of mine. Yeah, I wanted to be a captain here. I said it earlier that the list of captains that were here, that’s a really tremendous group,” Book said. “It was a goal of mine — I wanted to be a captain, I wanted to show these guys that I can lead in many different ways.”

Along with working on his leadership skills in the offseason, Book worked on his performance as well. He attended the Manning Passing Academy in the summer along with 30 of the other top college quarterbacks. Book spent three days there, learning from the Manning family — Archie, Peyton and Eli — and competing against some of the elite quarterbacks in the country.

“I wanted to see where I was and see where I ranked with those guys. Felt good, felt confident about it. Felt I threw well,” Book said of the experience. “Obviously, some really good players there, so I just wanted to go there and battle and compete against those guys.”

Something Book and the Irish are hoping he can do is be efficient throwing the ball downfield. Being accurate with deep passes has been a point of emphasis since the spring for Book.

“I don’t have to play outside of the offense; especially this spring and summer, I’ve been trying to … those smaller windows, I’m trying to test myself,” Book said. “I’m working on that; I’m thinking it’s making me a better player.”

“I think he’s certainly a lot more confident in pushing the ball down the field, and we knew that’s something we had to be better at,” Kelly added.

As for the “speeding ticket” comparison, Book actually took it as a compliment.

“I like it because it shows I like to be efficient, move the ball down the field,” Book said. “Really do whatever I can to lead this offense.”

The only question that remained, however, was a simple one: has Book ever received a speeding ticket?

“Zero,” Book said.

COLE KMET UPDATE

Kelly gave an update Saturday on the status of tight end Cole Kmet, who broke his collarbone in practice Thursday at Culver Academies in Culver.

“He had surgery. We put a plate in there, six screws. Timeline — anywhere from four weeks to eight to 10 weeks, depending on how you heal. Typically, we’ve had them back in six. He has shown to be a really good healer,” Kelly said. “He came back from a high ankle sprain (last year) in a week. So, we’re going to take the positive end of this and think we can get him back in four, five weeks. We’re hoping New Mexico (game on Sept. 14), but we’ll see how it goes.”

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN