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Ian Book returned to Notre Dame for a fifth season to boost his NFL Draft profile, among other things.

After leading the Irish to a second College Football Playoff appearance as their starting quarterback, setting the school’s all-time wins record and continuing his growth as a passer overall, mock drafts believe he accomplished the goal. His head coach does too – and sees his selection as an inevitability next week.

“I’ve talked to GMs and head coaches about Ian, which generally means he’s in serious consideration,” Brian Kelly said. “My expectations would be, based on the conversations I’ve had with GMs and coaches, there’s a very good chance he gets drafted and becomes a No. 2 somewhere.”

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Ian Book is a projected late-round pick in next week's draft.
Ian Book is a projected late-round pick in next week’s draft. (AP)

Recent mocks have pegged him as a late-round pick and the eighth to 10th quarterback selected. NFL.com’s Chad Reuter slotted him in the sixth round at No. 189 overall to the Philadelphia Eagles in his mock released Thursday, which had projected selections for all 259 picks.

Book has another noteworthy supporter, and it’s a player who excelled as a pro despite an average stature for his position: Former NFL quarterback and soon-to-be Notre Dame NBC television analyst Drew Brees.

“I had the chance to watch Notre Dame play quite a bit last year,” Brees said last week. “That big win against Clemson, I tuned in for most of the fourth quarter and the two overtimes. To watch the team come up with some really big wins and obviously put themselves in a position to make a run at it, Book was a huge part of that. He has been his whole career.

“You can tell his teammates loved him and he endeared himself to his teammates. That’s the number one trait a quarterback can have is that he’s bringing out the best in his teammates and his teammates would run through a wall for him. Certainly, you got that impression from when you watched the way the team would rally around him.”

All told, Book completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,830 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions in 2020. He averaged 8.0 yards per attempt, up 0.4 yards from his 2019 figure. The completion rate spiked 4.4 percent from 2019. He left with a career 63.8 completion percentage, 72 touchdown passes, 20 interceptions and 8,948 passing yards.

Book also ran for 1,517 career yards and topped 480 yards on the ground in each of his last two reasons. He had nine of his 17 career rushing touchdowns in 2020. The rushing numbers are a testament to his ability to extend plays, improvise and athleticism.

His pro day numbers last month further confirmed his athletic ability. He ran a 4.59 second 40-yard dash, 4.13 20-yard shuttle and 6.7 three-cone drill. The three-cone time was better than former teammates Javon McKinley (receiver), Nick McCloud (cornerback), Shaun Crawford (defensive back and Chris Finke (receiver). His 40 was identical to tight end Tommy Tremble’s.

“His skill set certainly carries over,” Brees said. “He’s an athletic guy who can run and make plays with his legs. He throws the ball very well. I think he has a bright future.”

Spring Game Format

Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold Game will live up to its name.

Kelly said Saturday the format of the May 1 spring game will be two teams, Blue vs. Gold, with the roster split among them.

“We’re going to go Blue vs. Gold, a traditional game,” Kelly said. “We’ll split the squads up. We have one or two players who will have to bounce around. [Nose tackle] Aidan Keanaaina will play the shade on both sides. He’s going to do some double-duty.”

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