Four-star LB Pete Werner drops Notre Dame commitment

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Holding together Notre Dame's 2017 recruiting class won't be easy. The newest crack in the foundation came Tuesday morning.

Four-star linebacker Pete Werner, who gave the Irish his pledge back in March, dropped his commitment to Notre Dame. 

He visited Ohio State over the weekend.

Werner confirmed the decision with ND Insider in a text message but did not respond to further questions. His departure trims Notre Dame's recruiting class to 17 commitments.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound product of Indianapolis Cathedral joined Notre Dame's class during a hot recruiting streak for the Irish. They added five commitments in a three-day span in March.

Werner followed commitments from David Adams, a four-star recruit, and Drew White, a three-star recruit, to form an impressive linebacker unit put together by Notre Dame recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Elston.

Rivals ranks Werner, who teamed with 2018 Irish running back commit Markese Stepp at Cathedral, as the No. 18 outside linebacker in the 2017 class. 247Sports slates him No. 22 at the position.

Without Werner, Notre Dame’s 2017 class ranking took a hit. Rivals dropped the Irish from No. 6 to No. 10. 247Sports knocked Notre Dame down to No. 11.

Because the Irish had three linebackers committed for such a long time, the list of targets hasn’t changed much in the previous months. But most of those targets already have committed elsewhere. Notre Dame will need to reevaluate its list or make a renewed effort with prior targets, like Rahyme Johnson, to add another linebacker to the class.

Johnson, a 6-4, 210-pound recruit from Los Angeles Salesian, received a visit from Irish associate head coach Mike Denbrock on Tuesday. Rivals ranks Johnson as a four-star recruit and the No. 21 outside linebacker in the class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star recruit and the No. 30 athlete.

Despite a 4-8 record, Notre Dame's class had remained relatively intact. But there also has been a lot of inactivity. Only one member of the current 2017 recruiting class — cornerback Elijah Hicks — gave his commitment since the start of August. And Hicks, who committed following the Stanford game, has since made an official visit to Michigan as he weighs other options. Hicks received a visit from ND defensive backs coach Todd Lyght on Monday.

The Irish did receive a commitment from defensive lineman Donovan Jeter in September, but he ditched Notre Dame a month later to commit to Michigan. The Irish also lost a commitment from defensive end Robert Beal early in the recruiting cycle.

In February, Notre Dame finished its entire 2016 class without losing a commitment. With a little more than two months left until signing day, the Irish will have to push hard to keep that number at only three.

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Notre Dame LB commit Pete Werner played for the first time in his senior season at Mishawaka High School after missing the first two weeks recovering from offseason hip surgeries. (Tribune Photo/TYLER JAMES)