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NFL Draft: Notre Dame QB Ian Book believes he excels in the stat that matters — winning

Some scouts question whether Ian Book, at 6 feet, is tall enough to thrive in the NFL, but he is unfazed by those doubters.
Some scouts question whether Ian Book, at 6 feet, is tall enough to thrive in the NFL, but he is unfazed by those doubters.Brian Blanco/Associated Press

The book on Ian Book is a really short story: He’s a winner. Period.

Book finished his career as the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history — a list that contains some serious heavyweights — posting a 30-4 record as a starter. He also came off the bench to spark the Irish to a come-from-behind win over LSU in the 2017 Citrus Bowl.

Those wins have been the major talking point in Book’s chats with NFL teams doing their poking and prodding in advance of the draft.

“I don’t try to steer the conversation that way, but it has been a big topic with some teams,” Book said following his recent Pro Day in South Bend, Ind. “A lot of teams care about that, and a lot of that falls on the QB’s shoulders — wins and losses — so it’s been brought up a ton.”

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What also has been brought up a ton is scouts’ criticisms of Book. That, at 6 feet, he lacks ideal size. That he is just an adequate athlete. That his arm isn’t strong enough to consistently stretch the field.

They’re subjective criticisms, of course, and Book has made a career of ignoring that noise while basking in the cheers at old Notre Dame. He knows he holds the trump card when it comes to the bottom line: wins.

“The whole measurable thing is the way it is,” he said, “I feel like the NFL is changing a little bit, especially at the quarterback position, so a lot of teams do understand that.

“But look, at the end of the day, there’s going to be people who doubt my height, and that’s just the way it is, honestly. Nothing I can do about that.

“So, just control what I can control. Just being able to talk about my experience at Notre Dame and talk about never losing at home and just having so many wins with all these guys — it’s important. Winning is important. That’s the business that we’re in, so it’s been a good conversation.”

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Ian Book looks to throw against Alabama during the Rose Bowl earlier this year.
Ian Book looks to throw against Alabama during the Rose Bowl earlier this year.Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

After losing a camp competition to incumbent Brandon Wimbush in 2018, Book supplanted Wimbush to start Week 3 after Wimbush led the Irish to a pair of sluggish wins.

Under Book, the Irish completed a 12-0 regular season before falling to Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

After a 10-2 season in 2019, Book led the Irish back to the playoffs, where they again fell in the semis, to Alabama in the Rose Bowl.

Book, who threw 72 career touchdown passes, has enjoyed success because he plays with quick feet and quick decision-making. He can extend plays with sneaky athleticism — a label he can appreciate but acknowledges he doesn’t love — and his accuracy doesn’t dip when he throws on the run.

He takes care of the ball (just 20 interceptions in 1,141 pass attempts) and does an excellent job leading his receivers.

Book capped his college career with a standout week at the Senior Bowl. He impressed teammates and the Dolphins staff with his leadership and intelligence.

“The main thing I wanted to show is that I could pick up the playbook pretty fast and just go out there and show the guys I could lead them,” said Book, who met with the Patriots contingent in Mobile. “Obviously it was a whole new playbook; all the plays are very similar, but they’re all called in a different way, so I just wanted to learn that and have a good command in the huddle.”

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Book felt relaxed and confident about how he competed against the other all-stars. Few had his big-game experience.

Ian Book looks downfield during his Pro Day workout earlier this spring.
Ian Book looks downfield during his Pro Day workout earlier this spring.Robert Franklin/Associated Press

“I just learned that if I study and really work hard at learning those plays and trying to be a leader, I can do it, and I just felt like I could compete there with all those guys,” he said. “That’s what I expected to do out there, go out and compete.

“I just had fun doing it. Those are the best players in the country all at one bowl game and I just had a lot of fun with it.”

Book, projected by many to be an early third-day pick, said he tries to model his game after quarterbacks who are similar in physical stature.

“I watch Drew Brees and Russell Wilson all the time,” he said. “Those are my two that I love to watch. I also love watching Baker Mayfield. I love how much of a competitor he is.’’

While training for his Pro Day, Book used Mayfield’s Combine measurables as motivation, and he ended up topping Mayfield, the top pick in 2018, in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill, and 20-yard dash.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.