New Orleans Saints quarterback Ian Book
Video call with New Orleans media
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Just curious if the Saints had been in contact with you throughout this process?
"Yep, I was able to have some great meetings with the Saints and definitely felt like there was a spot, that, you know, it was a good spot for me and somewhere I could go in and compete. And, you know, we had good meetings over Zoom. And I was just crossing my fingers was really hoping for any team, but this is just an unbelievable spot for me. I think I have a great opportunity and I did have some meetings with them in the past on Zoom and I think we were able to create a good relationship going forward."
What is your excitement level of joining a team like the Saints and a head coach like Sean Payton with an offensive mind?
"Very excited, my heart is still pounding. It's such a surreal moment. It's something I've dreamed of for such a long time and just to be here and get this call, you know, with my family and everybody here in town, it's everything I've wanted for such a long time. I started playing football in third grade and been wanting to play in the NFL since then. So just so excited to celebrate with my family tonight and really just enjoy this night for forever and make this one of the biggest memories of all time. But after that, and after tonight, it's (getting) ready to go to work and just get started. I'm so excited to get down there and work with Sean Payton and everybody, QBs, everybody just start working with the offense, getting some chemistry going, competing and having fun. I seriously cannot wait."
How would you describe yourself as a player and as a person for those who haven't necessarily watched a lot of your film yet?
"Yeah, someone who's really determined and just at the end of the day wants to win. That's the reason I played quarterback from day one in third grade, it was to have the ball in my hands at all times and distribute it to all the playmakers and at the end of the day, win football games. That's what I've tried to do my whole entire life. And that's who I am, I'm a winner, competitor. I'm not going to get down. I'm going to stay up and honestly, the biggest thing I always tell myself is just make everybody else around me better. That's what I want to do and put points up on the board. That's my job. So I'm going to do that everywhere I can and honestly just someone who loves football who's happy and loves to go out there compete every single day."
How do you kind of overcome people questioning your height and what do you say to critics who think that?
"Yeah, that's just been the story my whole entire life. I've always had a chip on my shoulder. I'm not getting any taller and it's the same thing every single time. Drew Brees been able to do it, there's many other quarterbacks, I can go down the list that can do it. We all have a similar playing style. But I feel like the league's changing and you don't have to be 6-5 anymore and you can make it work. And that's what I plan on doing and once you're out there you forget, it doesn't matter, you know, you're as tall as you're going to be and you're out there playing football the way you've been playing it your whole entire life. So nothing's changing for me. I am just going to go out there and give it my all 110%, every day, day in and day out and that is just that is just the player I am. I got a chip on my shoulder. And I'm just here to prove the people in my circle right. I do not want to prove anybody wrong. You're always going to hear the doubters and the naysayers, but that's the game we play and that's the position that I play. So not worried about it at all, just excited to get to work with the team."
Have you had the chance to talk to Drew Brees at all?
"I have not, you know, he just went to Notre Dame. He's going to do broadcasting there. So I missed him by a season there. But we'd love to talk to him and you know, obviously pick his brain about everything."
2021 NFL draft photos of New Orleans Saints draft pick Ian Book, quarterback out of Notre Dame.
What is it about thus team that makes it a good spot for you?
"Yeah, I just think it's Coach (Sean) Payton, and the offense there and obviously, I think it's huge that Drew Brees was there for as long as he was doing what he was doing. You know, we're different players, but we're similar in stature and he proved everybody down there and in the world that he could do it and I want to do the same thing. And I just feel like I fit in that system well and those are big shoes to fill, there's no doubt about it. But that's exciting. It's an exciting challenge for me and I think it's just that system and what Drew has done a lot of times, you know, I get comparisons, that Drew Brees or someone of similar stature. So, that's exciting for me, that's huge shoes to fill. And that's exciting for me, that's exactly what I want to go do."
Look, you've seen what Sean Payton has done with his backup quarterbacks, especially with Taysom Hill in the last few years? Are you willing to do anything or do you see yourself if you're not starting at quarterback, being a backup quarterback and not?
"Yeah, I'll do anything to help the team. Whatever that is, that's why they picked me is to is to be better and I'll do whatever they want to do. So I'm going to go in there and work hard and honestly, it's up to them, but I'm going to work day in and day out to be the best player that I can be and make everybody else around me better and I'll do whatever they think is best."
You started to address this a little but I just wanted to know if you can put this selection in the context of being the first quarterback selected or even brought in by this franchise really, since the retirement of Drew Brees?
"Yeah. (It's a) True honor, honestly. It's surreal. I do not really know how I feel right now. I don't think it's even set in really. It's everything I've ever dreamed up. I'm just happy that they all believed in me and took that chance to pick me. I want to prove those people right. Because that's what I'm here to do is compete and just get out there and have fun and do as much as I can to help out this organization. That's what I'm going to do and then put it all out there. It's unbelievable. I'm happy that they chose me and I want to prove them right for making the right decision."
What's the journey been like from Oak Ridge High School, the support along the way from the Sacramento region, Sacramento proud. Just talk to me about how many texts and emails, calls whatever you've received and the support out this way and just the journey from playing under the lights at Oak Ridge High?
"Yeah, it's been awesome, unbelievable journey. Just going to Oak Ridge and being able to play three seasons there, being able to get recruited and go to Notre Dame, and a lot of doubters, no one thought I'd ever play there. Just to be able to be named a two-time captain, never lose one game at home and make it to the playoffs twice. It's been a dream come true. It is everything I wanted. And then just to get drafted by the Saints, it is unbelievable. It's starting to set in right now. I'm just very thankful and appreciative. Just coming all the way from California, I'm just so excited to go down there and get to work and it's just been an unbelievable journey. I feel like it's starting over right now, right today and we'll start this new journey into the NFL and I can't wait. I seriously cannot wait and the supports been unbelievable. My phone is going off right now. A lot of people calling and texting excited and I am just excited to be able to see some family tonight. It's been a while. I haven't been home since June so I'll be really pumped to see everybody and I've got a good group behind me supporting me throughout this whole entire journey and tonight will be awesome to be able to celebrate with them."
When you guys are meeting with the Saints and you're doing a bunch of that stuff in the pre-draft process, are they talking to you about football? Are they trying to get a sense of you as a person? Is it a little bit of both? How would you kind of describe that?
"Yeah, definitely a little bit of both. I feel like the first meeting is different with Zoom. They would love to meet you in person but they can't. The first one they just want to know, some teams just want to dive right into football and some teams want to get to know you as a person a little bit. I think that was huge with what the Senior Bowl was able to bring to the table this year. Same thing, they're actually able to see you in person. Probably the only time in the whole entire draft process that they were actually able to see you in person but then they dive into football. After they get to know as much as they can over a computer they dive into football. They want to know, especially for quarterbacks, everything that you know. They want to know how much football knowledge and IQ do you know. They were really fun. I really enjoyed them, you do a little bit of your playbook, they do a little bit of theirs and try to remember everything that they said and then you teach the plays back to them. It was a really fun process. I really did enjoy it. Just being able to talk ball with a bunch of coaches, GMs, scouts, whatever it may be, was a dream come true. I really had a fun time with it."
Did you work with anyone like a private QB coach for draft crap? And if so, who was it and what were some of the things you focused on?
"So I work with this guy named Will Hewlett, who's been my quarterback coach for a long time now and I also worked with a guy named Craig Nall. So I worked with Will but Will was in Florida when I was actually training in Texas at MGP. So Will did come out for a week but when he was gone, he put me in touch with a guy named Craig Nall and was able to work with him. And they did have similar teaching philosophies so it was awesome was able to work with them. I've been working with Will since I think probably my eighth-grade football season. So I've been working with him for a super long time. He's somebody I trust and work with mechanics on and footwork and all these things. He's someone I plan on working with for a long time. So he is far away and we try to get together as much as we can. And he's done an unbelievable job."
Did you and Craig Nall talk about the whole Louisiana thing with him starting out at LSU? And how much confidence did your performance in the bowl game against LSU give you as a quarterback that you could compete on this level?
"Yeah. First thing with Craig, yeah, we definitely we talked about his whole journey. He's had an unbelievable journey. I think he was at LSU and then he left I believe, right? Ended up playing in the NFL for a long time, played behind Brett Favre and had a great career. Now he's doing a great job with the Elite 11 and doing private coaching as well. He's someone I met through this process, and taught me a lot and really enjoyed my time with him. And the second question, LSU, the Citrus Bowl. That was a huge boost in confidence for me, we were going to that game, we were going to split reps, QBs. And I went in the second quarter, I didn't end up coming out, played the rest of the game and won on New Year's Day with the last second, one handed catch. That just gave me momentum going into that next year knowing I can do this thing. I'm here for a reason, I was recruited by Notre Dame for a reason. I'm here to make plays. I'm here to play and I want to be the starter for a long time. I remember telling myself that right after that game, and there's just a boost of confidence. I just felt that much more comfortable coming into it those following years. I'll never forget that game ever. Just that last second one-handed catch. I still watch that video every once in a while. So it still gives me goosebumps."