Film Study: Notre Dame LB commit Pete Werner

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

LB Pete Werner, 6-3, 215; Indianapolis Cathedral.

The numbers: Werner recorded 45 tackles, three pass breakups and two tackles for a loss in his junior season at Cathedral. The Irish (8-4) lost to Avon in the IHSAA Class 6A regional championship.

The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 19 outside linebacker. 247Sports – Four stars, No. 19 outside linebacker.

FILM BREAKDOWN

First impression: Werner is a rangy defender who is more athlete than linebacker at this stage of his career. He’s played a variety of positions which should help him become a versatile collegiate linebacker. He fits into Notre Dame’s defense best as a Sam linebacker like James Onwualu.

Strengths: Athleticism shouldn’t be a concern for Werner. He shows great speed in pursuit and is comfortable playing in space. At the point of contact, Werner delivers hard tackles by bringing his entire body into the collision. His hits produce plenty of jolts. Werner shows great hustle in chasing down plays from the other side of the field. Werner can be a solid special teams player early in his Notre Dame career with experience tracking down returners.

Proof of prowess: (:11) Werner’s alignment at cornerback encouraged a short throw, but it didn’t produce a very positive result for the offense. Werner recognizes the screen as soon as he starts his backpedal and quickly changes direction. He’s nearly eight yards away when the receiver catches the ball behind the line of scrimmage, but Werner slams into him to prevent a gain of a single yard … (1:12) Playing safety, Werner isn’t fully on the screen at the start of the play, but he flies down into the hole to wrap up the running back for a loss … (1:26) Werner refuses to give up on the play and chases down the running back 50 yards downfield to prevent a touchdown.

Competition level: Cathedral annually puts one of the most talented rosters in Indiana on the field. But instead of playing only local teams, the Irish routinely challenge themselves against top teams from out of the state. Last season the schedule included teams from Tennessee — Rhea County (No. 23 in state according to MaxPreps) — and Ohio — Moeller (No. 7) and St. Xavier (No. 10). Cathedral also played against five of the top 15 teams in Indiana including the top two. Werner’s season came to an end against Michigan quarterback signee Brandon Peters.

Left to prove: Werner has played all over the field at Cathedral, which should help him in the long run but playing linebacker more as a senior will help show how those skills could translate to his college career. He needs to become more adept at playing closer to the line of scrimmage and dealing with traffic and linemen trying to block him. I’d like to see how Werner fares if an offense decides to run straight at him. Many of his tackles come when he’s in pursuit.

Pete Werner talks to defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder during the Irish Invasion at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, June 18, 2016. ND Insider Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA