Fans of the New Orleans Saints are stressed about the team’s chances after veteran quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian tested positive for Covid-19.
Unsure of how the team will fare in the current standings of the National Football League.
However, they have been assured that rookie quarterback Ian Book might be a beacon of hope in his maiden appearance.
Book, who has been inactive for all 14 games of the season, is the only quarterback under a Saints’ contract.
He is the only quarterback available to play against the Miami Dolphins on December 27, with teammate Jamies Winston out for the season due to a knee injury.
Ian Book: College Football Star
Born on March 30, 1998, California native, Ian Book knew he wanted to become a football star.
After his success as part of the Oak Ridge High School’s football squad, he joined the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, an intercollegiate team representing Indiana’s University of Notre Dame.
He was extremely successful in his days as a student-athlete and set the record for all-time leader in wins as a starting quarterback.
His record states that he had a total of 30 wins, with only five losses.
Book even led the Fighting Irish to two appearances in the College Football Playoff.
In 2019, he became the first Notre Dame player to have five scores in one half of a game. He then went on to become the first quarterback in the school’s history to have five touchdown passes in three games in a single season that same year.
On December 5, 2020, Book passed NFL legends Tom Clements, Brady Quinn, and Ron Powlus to have the most wins as a quarterback in the history of the Fighting Irish, with 30.
His 72 touchdown passes are the second-highest of all-time in the school’s history.
Book completed his career with the team with a 63.8% completion for 8,948 yards, 72 touchdowns, and 20 interceptions.
His percentage of passes is represented by 68.2% in his junior year and 64.6% as a senior at Notre Dame.
In four seasons as part of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team, Book displayed his impressive athleticism by running 361 times for 1,517 yards with a record of 17 touchdowns.
The 2021 NFL Draft
Held in Cleveland, Ohio, the draft took place from April 29 to May 1 earlier this year.
Book was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 4th round of the process and was the 133rd to be drafted.
He signed a four-year rookie contract on June 8.
There may be a fair bit of prestige attached to being one of Notre Dame’s most successful quarterbacks, but that does not always guarantee success in the big leagues.
The Saints took notice of Book during his record-making student days, and he had a decent amount of interaction with higher-ups prior to the draft.
When asked about officially being drafted, Book said:
“We had good meetings over Zoom, and I was just crossing my fingers — really, hoping for any team — but this is just an unbelievable spot for me.”
Head coach Sean Payton had not previously indicated he was planning on drafting another quarterback but was open to Book after watching him play at Notre Dame.
Book is the first tried-and-true quarterback to be drafted by the team since Garrett Grayson in 2015.
Following the announcement that Book had made the cut, many NFL enthusiasts noted the similarities between the rookie and legendary Saints player Drew Brees.
Taking notice of this, Book said Brees was an inspiration for the newly-minted professional.
“I really take pride in my accuracy. … Not just completing a ball, but putting in a place where they can catch it and make a play with it,” he said in August. “I grew up watching Drew Brees, because he does exactly that. Honestly that’s someone I’ve looked up to. I want to play like him.” he told WAFB.
Brees’ departure from the Saints came with his retirement announcement in March of this year, after 20 NFL seasons, the last 15 of which were with the Saints.
He was an asset to the team, being the all-time league leader in passing years, the second in touchdown passes and completion percentage.
Although upsetting news, Saints fans still had hope as veterans Hill and Winston were competing for a starting role in the season following his retirement.
Book’s Maiden Appearance
The recent surge of Covid-19 cases has had a significant impact on the NFL.
The Saints were first hit by the pandemic when head coach Payton was recovering from the virus when the team celebrated their win against the Buccaneers in Tampa.
Payton had been working from home while Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen was serving as acting head coach.
With Hill and Sieman both out until they can present a negative test, it seems as though Book will finally be making his debut on Monday.
While fans may be hesitant, Payton has expressed support for the new player. During the pre-draft process, he praised Book, saying:
“We spent a lot of time with him,” Payton said of the pre-draft process. “The first thing you see is he’s won a lot of games. Real good competitor. We liked a lot [about him]. He’s played in big games, played at a high level. We felt like it was right at the right time in the draft that would be good for us, and we’re glad he was there.”
Due to the slew of virus outbreaks and injuries, Book is the fourth starting quarterback for the Saints this season.
Thus far, he has only been active in two games.
Team members have expressed support for Book’s maiden appearance, with Nick Vannet pointing out that:
“It’s not easy for anyone who’s stepping into their first NFL game and taking on that role, especially a quarterback. But with Ian, he’s an unbelievable athlete, unbelievable quarterback.I would say he’s just as mobile as Taysom (Hill) is, he’s a dual threat, he can run around and he’ll get in there and get some yards scrambling around.”