Q&A: Ohio Offensive Lineman Maxwell Riley's Coach Says the 2026 Prospect Was "Out Of This World Excited" About Getting an Ohio State Offer

By Garrick Hodge on March 18, 2023 at 10:10 am
Maxwell Riley

Ohio offensive lineman Maxwell Riley is one of the fastest-rising in-state 2026 offensive lineman prospects.

On March 7, he became the first offensive lineman prospect in the 2026 cycle to pick up an offer from the Buckeyes after he and his father attended OSU’s first spring practice. He’s the second in-state prospect at any position to pick up a 2026 offer, with wideout Chris Henry Jr. being the other. The OSU offer was his fourth total, with the other three being Toledo, Florida State and Miami.

To learn more about Riley, Eleven Warriors caught up with his high school coach Matt Kostelnik this week to discuss Riley’s on-field ability, his rise in the recruiting industry and his interest in Ohio State. This interview has been slightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: It’s not all too common to see an offensive tackle as young as he is pick up several premier Power Five offers already. What’s it been like for you to see his recruitment take off so fast and what kind of player is he on the field?

Matt Kostelnik: Starting from the beginning, he’s a fantastic kid. He works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. He started back in the COVID years being stuck at home, he started dedicating himself to getting better. He had a goal that he wanted to start as a freshman. He comes from a good family and gets good grades. He was putting up great numbers as an eighth grader, he was top five in weight lifting. I told him after that I’d give him a shot and you make of it what you will. A couple of injuries here and there to other kids, he stepped up in that first game and took the majority of reps at right tackle and never looked back. We switched him back and forth between left tackle and right tackle and the kid just played great all year long. We couldn’t be happier for him. He works for everything he gets. To see this happen this young with the caliber of schools that have offered is great. I’ve had Ohio State come in and look at our guys before, but never pull the trigger. To see this process has been a learning experience for me and it’s been pretty fun. 

Q: In regards to footwork, hands and burst, what qualities make him such a highly-coveted offensive line prospect?

Kostelnik: He’s got some of the best footwork I’ve ever seen out of a kid his size. We knew there was a lot of potential there. He does O-line specific stuff a couple of times a week, whether it’s with us or a trainer. He’s a shot put thrower. When (OSU offensive lineman) coach (Justin) Frye came in and asked me what I thought, I told him I can run outside zone effectively and consistently for the first time as a head coach. I hadn’t been able to do it before. But we can run to Max’s side. That’s the kids ability to get his hips going downfield, get his hands on people and finishes. He’s the nicest kid off the field, he has five siblings, but he puts that helmet on and a lot of hate comes out of that heart that you didn’t think was there.

Q: When Ohio State pulled the trigger and offered him two weeks ago, were you taken by surprise it came this quick or did you have a feeling it might be coming soon on his visit? 

Kostelnik: Traditionally speaking when Ohio State came around, I looked up when they tend to offer and it’s usually after the sophomore season. So I figured it was a get-to-know-you session. When he went down there I thought he’d have a good opportunity to sit down with these coaches and figure out what they’re all about. Then I got a text message from him saying they offered. But apparently he was still on his visit, so I was calling and texting and he didn’t answer. I was like ‘You can’t just leave me hanging like that, man, tell me the story.’ It was very exciting and I was giggling like a little kid. I was at a professional development day and everybody was looking at me like I was weird. I looked at my principal and said ‘Hey, Max just got offered by Ohio State. When he calls, I’m leaving.’ The principal was cool about it. 

Q: Sometimes kids that get big premier offers right away at a young age can go one of two ways and either work even harder because it motivates them, or take it easy because they think they’ve made it. Based on what you’ve said I’d assume Max is in the former category rather than the latter, right?

Kostelnik: We sat down and talked about setting certain goals. He’s dialed in on track. He’s No. 1 in the state right now and wants to be No. 1 in the country in his age group. He wants to qualify for state. That’s his goal. And then after that, he wants to be All-Ohio. He wants to get the pancake record, he wants to get the starts record. He’s so goal-driven that having that conversation with him, he’s such a kid that sets his mind to something he’ll do everything in his power to get it done. I told him to enjoy the night and enjoy the moment, but we looked at past Ohio State classes of offensive linemen and there seems to be a pretty common theme. Tall, lean and athletic guys. You’re a big dude and the weight will come. They offered you because you have a nice frame, quick feet and lean right now for a big guy. The weight will come there, that’s one of our big-picture goal over the next couple of years.

Q: Obviously it’s a big deal for lots of guys in Ohio when they pick up an OSU offer. From what you know, are he and his family Ohio State fans?

Kostelnik: I actually don’t know one way or the other so I don’t want to say for sure. But I do know he was out of this world excited when he got the offer and he had mentioned Ohio State prior to even starting the recruiting process. That was a school he wanted to camp at and make an impression on. He was definitely on their radar and he’s grown up watching them being an Ohio kid. 

Q: When you spoke with him, what was his impression of the facilities and how the operation is run and all that sort of stuff?

Kostelnik: He loved it, he and his dad loved it. He thought everything was first-class, thought practices were going really well, he sat down and had a conversation with coach Frye then had a conversation with coach Day. They thought it was a well-oiled machine, they had a great experience and had nothing but great things to say about Ohio State. 

Q: Obviously he has lots of desirable traits as a player, but where would you like to see him grow the most over the next couple of years?

Kostelnik: Hm, that’s a good question. Just continuing to work on himself. He’s a great kid, great teammate, great in the classroom. To me he’s one of those kids to where that’s who you strive for, you want your own kid to be that goal-oriented. I want him to enjoy the process and enjoy the experience. Coach Frye told him he has a long three years ahead of him, but they’re going to be an enjoyable three years. I just hope he enjoys the process and really soaks it all in, in particular being an Ohio kid and being offered by the Buckeyes.

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