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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 12:40 am

Irish QB coach Rees effusive in praise of Ian Book

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Tom Rees could talk about Brandon Wimbush and not bat an eye, and Notre Dame's new quarterbacks coach is a big fan of Wimbush, don't get us wrong, but mention Ian Book and that's when you'll really get a rise out of Rees.

I found that out Tuesday when Rees appeared at a golf event sponsored by the Notre Dame Club of Fort Wayne. With spring practice in the rearview mirror, I asked Rees about Wimbush, of course, but I was also curious to explore his level of comfort with the Irish's backup signal-caller, Ian Book.

That's when Rees' eyes widened and a smile crept across his face.

"That was one of the best things of the spring is Ian's development," Rees said. "I mean, you want to talk about a clean slate, coming in with him was like, 'Hey, this is what a football looks like,' and it was really starting from square one."

Book ended spring ball by passing for 277 yards and a touchdown in the annual Blue & Gold game, leading his Gold squad to a 27-14 win.

From El Dorado Hills, California, Book arrived on campus last year but used the 2016 season as a redshirt year. This fall, he'll be only one play away, as they say, from having Notre Dame's offense in his hands.

More and more, that's something the coaching staff feels good about.

"The leaps and bounds he took in terms of knowledge and understanding what it takes to play quarterback and what it takes to run this offense were as impressive as anything all spring," Rees said. "I love working with Ian because he wants to soak it all up."

On more than one Sunday evening this spring, Rees would be preparing to go to sleep when his phone rang. Inevitably, it was Book calling with a question about the playbook.

"That's really what you want to see out of a young quarterback," Rees said, "is somebody that wants to get that much better."