Around the regions in a forward lean ...
Ian Book went, he saw, he absorbed. And now he’s hooked.
It’s one thing to see Notre Dame on TV and in video and photos, but to really feel Notre Dame, one must walk the South Bend, Ind., campus. Book did that, and the Oak Ridge High School senior decided this was the place for him.
The quarterback, perhaps the best in Northern California this fall, flipped his verbal commitment from Washington State to the luck of the Irish on scholarship. Along with parents Kim and Rick, and brother Nolan (a freshman football player at UC Davis), Book led the tour last week at Notre Dame – the dorms, the library, the football facilities, Touchdown Jesus.
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Back in El Dorado Hills, Team Book remains star-struck.
“We were all blown away because you have to see Notre Dame to really appreciate it,” Book said Friday. “I’m very excited. I know I’m really fortunate, and I know it’s a great opportunity.”
Book is ready for the challenge. He has been ready seemingly since the time he played youth football. He’s a natural leader, dangerous with his feet, arm, touch and decision making. I first caught Book in action when he was a sophomore in 2013, playing at Grant in an energized setting in Del Paso Heights. The Pacers were determined to buckle Book by blitzing him. Problem was, they couldn’t get to him, and Book rallied the Trojans to victory.
Book passed for 2,558 yards and 30 touchdowns with five interceptions last season. He has just 12 picks in 588 varsity attempts. Book is 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, still growing in mind, body and stature.
And he’ll become the first regional quarterback to attend Notre Dame, a bit of history that also inspires him. But Book targets a championship for Oak Ridge first, not that Notre Dame isn’t on the brain.
The Books explored a Notre Dame bookstore on campus and cleaned the place out with hats and assorted Irish garb.
“Then we got home, went online and ordered some more,” Book said excitedly. “We’ve got gear coming.”
And the region this fall has Book coming, a full volume of talent.
Browning bullets – The Washington Huskies haven’t started a true freshman quarterback since Marques Tuiasosopo in 1997, but Jake Browning of Folsom fame could.
Though coach Chris Petersen generally prefers that freshmen redshirt, the UCD graduate said Browning is “definitely” in the mix for the starting gig. Browning got a head start by enrolling at Washington in January, soaking in 15 spring practices. Browning led Folsom to a 16-0 record last fall and set a national prep record with 229 career touchdown passes.
We’re the captains now – Folsom graduates Stephen Sippel, a center, and Burton De Koning, a linebacker, have been named Cal Poly team captains. Sippel has started 24 consecutive games at center for the Mustangs, whose Big Sky Conference rivals include UCD and Sacramento State. De Koning had 43 tackles in 2014.
Paging Marcus – Marcus Paige-Allen (Sheldon) is a returning starting defensive lineman for Cal Poly and one of the conference’s strongest players, never mind his 5-11 245-pound frame. He is a nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman Larry Allen, one of the strongest men in NFL history, regularly bench-pressing 700 pounds.
Osterhout in place – American River College lifted the “interim” tag on football coach Jon Osterhout, a former Sac State All-American lineman and assistant coach. In his first season last fall, Osterhout led the Beavers to their first state No. 1 ranking and the Northern California championship game, in which they fell to San Francisco City College on a late field goal.
In the offseason, Osterhout added longtime Rio Linda head coach Mike Morris to the staff and brought in former UCD defensive-line coach Will Kofe.
Burton on air – Nigel Burton (Jesuit) has joined the Pac-12 Network, a natural for the talkative former Portland State head coach. The Bee’s first Defensive Player of the Year winner in 1994, Burton coached Portland State for five seasons. Burton and his family will remain in Portland, and he will do in-studio work at the Pac-12 TV headquarters in San Francisco and on-site commentary.