This story was first published in September 2015 when Ian Book was a senior at Oak Ridge High School.
Ian Book made the call. He did not send an email or try to talk his parents or coaches at Oak Ridge High School into bailing him out. The senior quarterback realized he would have to take this one.
Any pressure that Book faces Friday night when Oak Ridge plays Vacaville at Tom Zunino Stadium will be nothing compared with what he had to confront into deciding where he will play in college.
Book had hoped to be a man of his word. He made a verbal commitment to Washington State University with every intention of continuing his football career with the Cougars. That will not happen.
Notre Dame saw to that with a scholarship offer to Book even though he was supposedly off the market. That was enough for Book to change his mind, leaving him with one difficult call to make.
Graham Harrell had recruited Book to Washington State. Harrell paid a visit to El Dorado Hills last spring to meet Book’s family and watch Book play lacrosse for Oak Ridge. He was sold on Book.
So was Mike Sanford, who had recruited Book to Boise State until leaving the Broncos to become the offensive coordinator at Notre Dame. Book was torn between Boise State and Washington State until Sanford left, so that news prompted Book to make a commitment to the Cougars.
Book’s future seemed to be a done deal until he got a call one day from Sanford. At first, Book did not think much of the call other than to think Sanford was merely checking in on a former recruit.
That was not the reason for Sanford’s call. After joining Brian Kelly’s staff at Notre Dame, Sanford began to sing the quarterback’s praises and convinced the Fighting Irish to take a look at Book.
An impromptu visit was arranged for Book this summer after he and his parents returned from a Caribbean cruise. They jumped on a flight from Miami to Chicago and then drove to South Bend, Ind.
“I fell in love,” he said, “with Notre Dame.”
Book’s visit ended with a scholarship offer. As much as he might have been tempted to accept it on the spot, Book realized he could not do so without first finding the nerve to call Washington State.
“(Book) was terrified that (the Cougars) would hear the news from someone other than him,” said Oak Ridge coach Eric Cavaliere, a 1987 Vacaville graduate who is 3-0 against his alma mater.
Notre Dame’s offer was put on hold until Book returned home to weigh his options once again. “I needed time. It all happened so fast,” he said. “But when I got home, I didn’t need that much time.”
Turning down scholarship offers from the likes of San Diego State and Nevada was easy for Book because he did not commit to any of those universities. He did so with Washington State, however.
Imagine Harrell’s disappointment felt when Book called to say he had changed his mind. After explaining his decision to Harrell, Book said Harrell then handed the phone to head coach Mike Leach.
“I had to say the whole thing again,” Book said. “It caught them off-guard unfortunately. I could tell they were (mad). That was the hardest part. It was pretty awkward, but I was glad I told them.”
Book’s next call was to Notre Dame. Within seconds, Cavaliere got a call from a Chicago Tribune reporter asking about Book after the Fighting Irish announced Book had committed to Notre Dame. News of Book’s decision spread quickly on the Internet. Cavaliere took a minute to check Book’s highlight video on www.Hudl.com and found 15,000 new hits within 24 hours of the announcement.