Ian Book could always throw a football with pop.
Years ago, when he was humming fastballs at Oak Ridge High School, I was asked before a playoff game why the kid was a national recruit quarterback.
Book didn’t have ungodly statistics like others in the Sacramento region, I was reminded. So what gives?
What gives is the vapor trail on the football Book fires. I suggested the fan take a peek at Book in warm ups – the velocity and zip of his passes. The fan saw, and his eyebrows raised.
“That, sir, is why he’s a big recruit. A cannon arm, not stats,” I said.
Book is now a senior at Notre Dame. He still fires a mean and pretty ball, and he can run. The Irish team captain did a bit of both with a touchdown pass and a scoring run in leading the Irish to a 35-17 victory over Louisville on Monday night.
Even his throwaway passes inflict considerable damage.
In throwing the ball away against Louisville, Book’s wayward pass found the face of Elizabeth Scott, a cheerleader for the Cardinal. It broke her nose and it has darn near broken the Internet.
Scott told USA Today that she was looking at the play on the big screen monitor. Her fellow cheerleaders warned of incoming danger. Then impact.
“They’re like, ‘Watch out! Watch out! Watch out!” Scott said.
Book sent Scott a message on Instagram to apologize. Scott said, “I messaged him back, and I was like, ‘All is good. That’s not your fault. Like, how are you supposed to know the ball’s going to go directly into my face?’”
Book passed for 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns a year ago in leading Notre Dame to the College Football Playoffs. Book spent his offseason at the Manning Passing Academy to refine technique.
“I think it’s going to be a big year for me,” Book said before the season. I still feel like I’ve got a chip on my shoulder. I want to prove myself every single day.”
He has a believer in Scott.
Jordan Kunaszyk fights his way to Panthers roster
Jordan Kunaszyk has been a grinder his entire football life, from Roseville High to American River College.
He received not a single offer to play Division I college ball. He was a tackling machine at Cal but was not one of the 254 players selected in April’s NFL Draft.
So then the linebacker makes the Carolina Panthers final 53-man roster. OK, then.
“I’ve got to prove that I’m meant to be here and I can help the team,” Kunaszyk told Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer after a recent practice. “I haven’t made it. When you think you’ve made it, you get complacent.”
Purple Pride for Folsom, Granite Bay
They were prep All-Americans, Jake Browning at Folsom and Cameron Smith at Granite Bay, and they were team captains and four-year starters in the Pac-12 at Washington and USC, respectively. They were opponents and rivals and now they’re teammates for the first time.
Browning was signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, where he will get reps in practice as the third-string quarterback, and Smith was added to the practice squad at linebacker.
Tight end Cole Hikutini of Pleasant Grove High roots was waived by the Vikings and signed to the Dallas practice squad.
Grand chance for Carl
Rookie defensive end Carl Granderson out of Grant and Wyoming rejoined the Saints after spending 43 days in jail, his six-month July sentence for a sexual battery case, later reduced to supervised probation.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Granderson told Saints media. ““I’m just thankful for a second chance to get back out there and work as hard as I can to be on the team. It’s just a lesson learned.”
▪ Tight Ross Dwelley of Oak Ridge made the 49ers’ final roster, prompting coach Kyle Shannahan to say, “he’s shown us enough.”
▪ Receiver Trayvon Henderson of Grant and Hawaii was signed to the Cincinnati practice squad. While at Grant, Henderson told me, “I’ll make the league. I’m destined to make the league.”