Posted June 18, 2018 at 06:00 AM | Updated June 18, 2018 at 06:03 AM
Pete Werner,JD Spielman
Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner, bottom. (Nati Harnik, Associated Press)
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State football opens the 2018 season on Sept. 1 against Oregon State. We’re counting down the top 50 Buckeyes for this season, taking into account talent, past accomplishments, team need and potential.
By Tim Bielik, cleveland.com
No. 36: Pete Werner, sophomore, linebacker
Height, weight: 6-foot-3, 235 pounds.
Where he was ranked last year: Werner was not listed in the top 50. So, to put him at No. 36 says a lot about his first year of college football. He is the seventh member of Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class to be ranked in the list.
What he’s done: Not only is Werner ranked higher than six other members of his class, including a former five-star prospect in Shaun Wade, but he was one of the lowest-ranked prospects in the class. He was the No. 277 player in the country in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for 2017, and No. 14 among inside linebackers. But it’s always a credit to a player when he comes in not ranked among the best in his class and has an impact.
Werner played in 11 games last season and became a key piece of Ohio State’s kickoff coverage unit. He had nine total tackles, including six solos, and 0.5 tackles for loss. But he had possibly the hit of the season for Ohio State last year in kickoff coverage vs. Illinois, which you can see in the GIF above. It wasn’t the only time he did something with that kind of ferocity on special teams. But that level of intensity is what gets you on the field early as a recruit, regardless of how you’re ranked.
Why Werner is No. 36: Of all the signees from 2017, Werner was one of the surprises to make an impact on the team right away. And he added 20 pounds onto his frame prior to spring football. But just as importantly for him, he has made a fan of Urban Meyer. Whether that leads to more reps on Saturday has yet to be determined.
All we know about what’s going to happen at linebacker is that when healthy, Tuf Borland will be a starter. But Borland missed most of the spring with an Achilles injury and may miss some time to start the season. That’s about all as far as the guarantees at linebacker. Like Werner, Ohio State’s linebacker group is full of young players that have not proven much but have plenty of potential.
We predicted after the spring that Werner was going to be a backup at outside linebacker to Keandre Jones. That doesn’t mean we won’t see Werner this fall. The way Meyer hyped him up throughout the spring makes you think that he’s going to have a growing role. He should be another key part of the special teams and could work his way into the rotation at outside linebacker. Borland’s injury means that Werner and the other young linebackers will be pressed into more work in the interim. But if you go by the massive amount of strength that Werner has added and the praise he has earned from Meyer, he’s doing his part to prepare for that extra responsibility.
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