Pete Werner has put himself among the 16 best linebackers in America.
On Monday morning, the senior Buckeye was named as one of 16 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, which honors college football's best linebacker.
He's one of only two Big Ten semifinalists for the award, joining Christian Harris (Alabama), Grant Morgan (Arkansas), Nate Landman (Colorado), Nakobe Dean (Georgia), Monty Rice (Georgia), Jabril Cox (LSU), Nick Bolton (Missouri), Chazz Surratt (North Carolina), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (Notre Dame), Olakunle Fatukasi (Rutgers), Ernest Jones (South Carolina), Buddy Johnson (Texas A&M), Zaven Collins (Tulsa), Devin Lloyd (Utah) and Charles Snowden (Virginia) as an honoree.
Werner, who moved from strongside linebacker to weakside linebacker, has continued his upward trajectory into the 2020 season where he's been a key piece of a strong, veteran-led position group. He leads the Buckeyes with 24 tackles through four games. The fourth-year has also recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one quarterback hurry and one forced fumble.
Because of Ohio State's shortened schedule, which will feature a maximum of six regular season games, it's fair to view Werner as an underdog for the Butkus Award. But his placement as a semifinalist is an indication of how he's been garnering more respect nationally.
Two Ohio State linebackers – James Laurinaitis in 2007 and Andy Katzenmoyer in 1997 – have won the Butkus Award in the past.