The next player up in our offseason recruiting series is Cole Pedersen, a 6’-4” and 210 lb linebacker from Leon, Iowa. Pedersen was also the starting quarterback for Central Decatur.
As a senior, Pedersen battled some injuries but still managed record 46 tackles in his senior season, leading him to a 4-star rating by 247sports.
In the meantime, we are going to dive in to Cole Pedersen, who has a shot to make an immediate impact next season.
Pedersen is not the prototypical build for a linebacker, standing at 6’4 and 215 pounds he’s just a little skinnier and taller than normal, but he can beef up (i.e. Mike Rose.) He is very athletic and fast when playing quarterback and he shows off some real linebacker intangibles while on defense.
He excels more in power off the line of scrimmage rather than finesse, which is my personal preference for a linebacker. Pedersen has great fundamentals when wrapping up, which allows him to finish tackles with power.
Here’s what Pedersen had to say about his own strengths:
“I think I’m bringing some versatility to be able to cover the run and pass at linebacker. Which is exactly what (the coaches) expect out of their linebackers. (The one thing I hope to improve on is) my ability to read the play and react quicker.”
*All highlights courtesy of Hudl
In this first play, Pedersen shows off his pure power. The opponent is in a wishbone-type formation on 3rd down and six, and Pedersen blows up the play after a small running back tries to chip him. Spoiler: it doesn’t work and Pedersen makes a big tackle for loss.
To me, this is what it looks like when a Power 5-level player is playing against a 1A team. Pedersen just overpowers the offense, which is a really good sign considering his small frame. If Pedersen is this strong at 215, imagine what he will be like at 240.
Here is another example of Pedersen’s power and intangibles. From the second the ball is snapped, he knows exactly where the play is going be. As soon as the ball is snapped, Pedersen is in pursuit of the quarterback where he sheds off two blockers and pulls down the quarterback for a loss.
As Pedersen said, he wants to improve on his timing off of the snap and his reaction, but I think he does a great job on this play of reading the play right from the snap. The one critique I would have on this play is that he takes somewhat of a weird angle to the ball-carrier, however he salvages his effort by trucking three players lol.
This play is a great example of Pedersen’s speed in pursuit. On a pitch play with the linebacker blitzing, he traditionally wouldn’t be making a play on the sidelines. But because Pedersen’s speed and instincts, he was able to shed a blocker and take the running back down by the sidelines. Those are the type of winning, hustle plays that have defined the early portion of the Matt Campbell era for Iowa State, so he’s a natural fit in the program culture.
This play is with Pedersen at quarterback, which isn’t necessarily important to his career at Iowa State, but I wanted to show the full extent of his elusiveness and breakaway speed. In high school track, Pedersen ran a 15.26 in the 110 meter hurdles. I’m not a track expert, but that’s a very good time for a linebacker.
Pedersen’s speed combined with his power and the inevitable beef-up could make him one of the best future linebackers in the Big 12.
Mike Rose. I usually don’t want these to be all of the best players on Iowa State, but I just see too many similarities between Pedersen and Rose. First off, both entered the program with elite athleticism and a skinnier frame they can grow into. Through his first two seasons at Iowa State, Rose went through a transformation that saw him adding nearly 30 pounds of muscle.
Aside from body type, there are a lot of similarities in their games, as both players use the aforementioned speed and athleticism to compliment a high IQ and a high motor that keeps them in plays, even on a misread or bad angle.
This goes without saying at this point, but this coaching staff really only recruits players that fit into their culture and system. Pedersen looks like he has all of the potential to play any of the linebacker spots and excel in them.
I specifically like the versatility that Pedersen brings to the table. As a freshman, I can see him being a really good special teams player while maybe even getting some reps at linebacker. As for the future, I think Pedersen can be really good in the role we saw Marcel Spears Jr. in for the last three years. Cole’s length and speed make for a great option in pass coverage while he fills out his frame to help in the run game.
Through my first viewing of Pedersen’s film, I wasn’t extremely impressed. But as I watch and dissect more, the more I like him. I’ve said it countless times, but the pure football instinct is one thing that can’t be taught and is owned by few, but Pedersen has it. The combination of his size and intangibles should give him a chance to compete for early playing time, and make a significant impact on the team sooner than later.