The wait is finally over for four-star linebacker Pete Werner. Verbally committing to Ohio State in December, the one-time Notre Dame pledge is now officially a Buckeye after signing his national letter of intent with the Big Ten powerhouse earlier this morning.
Putting pen to paper, Werner will team back up with another Indianapolis Cathedral standout on the Ohio State roster next season. Showcasing his speed, current Buckeye wide receiver and special teams terror Terry McLaurin was named Mr. Football for the state of Indiana during his time with the Irish.
Werner wasn’t penciled into the Buckeyes’ class early on, but it didn’t take him very long to jump on his chance to play for Urban Meyer and crew. Making the trip to the Columbus campus for Ohio State’s come from behind victory over arch-rival Michigan, he announced his plans to play for OSU nearly two weeks later during his official visit.
Although Ohio State looks to replace Raekwon McMillan, the defensive unit returns numerous linebackers next season. Much like the aforementioned McLaurin and other young Buckeyes have done in the past, Werner will more than likely have to crack the lineup on special teams before seeing significant time in the rotation at his natural position.
While redshirting during his first season with the Buckeyes isn’t out of the question, the 6’3, 220-pound Werner has shown it’s hard to keep him off the field during his time on the high school level. Considered the 14th-best outside linebacker and 273rd overall prospect in the class of 2017, according to the 247Sports Composite, Werner racked up more than 100 career tackles and six forced fumbles for the Irish.
He’s ready to continue that production at Ohio State:
Werner already has the size to get on the field, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s asked to redshirt in order to bulk up and become an athletic mike linebacker in the form of Joshua Perry. He has the skill set to thrive in the middle of the defense, as he repeatedly demonstrated the ability to find the ball in traffic and he finished ball carriers with bad intentions.
Werner was used all over the field in high school, as his excellent play-reading abilities allowed him to line up at safety and continue to make plays around the line of scrimmage. His coverage ability is a bit of a question mark, though he showed solid ability to match up with tight ends in space. Werner really shined as a blitzer, as he showed great timing and the type of “you can’t block me” attitude that is required to get to the quarterback.
Werner is a candidate to redshirt due to the talent Ohio State already has at linebacker. Look for him to find the field in 2018, where his ability to play in space and track quarterbacks could be used in a similar fashion as Jerome Baker. It wouldn’t be surprising if Werner finds a way to contribute on special teams sooner rather than later, as there is room for his size/speed combination to be utilized all over the field. — Ian Hartitz