Better Know A Buckeye is our look at every member of Ohio State’s 2023 recruiting class and how they became Buckeyes as they prepare to begin their OSU careers this fall.
Joshua Padilla grew up in Dayton, Ohio but was never really a Buckeye fan. Instead, he was a fan of college football in general.
When Ohio State came calling, though, Padilla knew it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up. The second commit in the Buckeyes' 2023 class, the Dayton native is ranked as the No. 11 interior offensive lineman (No. 226 overall) in the class.
- Size: 6-3/293
- Position: C
- School: Wayne (Dayton, Ohio)
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: #11 IOL
- Overall Rank: #226
How He Became A Buckeye
Padilla knew Ohio State was interested in him when then-OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson retweeted one of Padilla’s wrestling highlights after he won his district championship in the 285-pound class. An offer came shortly after that.
Then came the visits to Columbus, including a trip to an Ohio State camp and a few games. He attended his first game in Columbus for the 2021 home opener against Oregon, then returned for the Akron game later that month. After attending the game against Penn State later that season, he fell in love with the atmosphere at Ohio Stadium, something that inevitably made him fall in love with the Buckeyes.
There was no pre-commitment announcement. No buildup. Padilla just went with his gut and committed to Ohio State on Nov. 4, 2021. He was the second commitment in the Buckeyes' 2023 class, following tight end Ty Lockwood, who later decommitted from the Buckeyes in favor of Alabama.
Despite the firing of offensive line coach Greg Studrawa (and the hiring of Justin Frye to take the same position) just a couple of months later, Padilla remained committed to Ryan Day's program.
High School Years
From the moment Padilla put on the pads as a freshman, he immediately became one of Wayne's top linemen. A four-year starter, he gained plenty of experience along the offensive line at a young age.
Padilla played primarily right tackle at Wayne, a position he likely will not play as a Buckeye. The four-star prospect was a first-team All-Ohio Division I selection in his senior season.
The 6-foot-3, 293-pounder showcased his intensity, tenacity and aggressiveness, especially when it came to finishing blocks and driving players into the ground when it was needed. He has the athleticism to get out into space in order to block downfield but also the strength to be an anchor in the middle of the offensive line.
Ohio State commit Joshua Padilla drives his man downfield on run play to his side. pic.twitter.com/gXSDysGTFd— Bill Kurelic (@Bill_Kurelic) August 19, 2022
Some nice work from Joshua Padilla here: pic.twitter.com/sokFCJ1LvD— Griffin Strom (@GriffinStrom3) June 8, 2021
While football is his favorite sport, Padilla finished as the runner-up in the 285-pound weight class in Division I wrestling, falling 1-0 in the state title match against Cincinnati offensive tackle signee Ethan Green. With his background on the mat, the four-star prospect has very good leverage and the ability to drive opponents into the ground.
As an early enrollee, Padilla has begun his transition to center, a position he never played in high school.
Given that, it wouldn't be surprising if Padilla redshirts his freshman season. It would give him an extra year to develop, get stronger and become more comfortable in the middle of the offensive line before actually playing in games.
“I think getting in the strength program earlier will help a lot,” Padilla told Eleven Warriors last August about enrolling early. “I think I’ll be able to learn more plays in the spring too so I have them down come August. It’ll help prepare me for fall camp.”
Offensive line coach Justin Frye made sure to mention Padilla while talking to the media in March, describing him as a player who has shown plenty of good things while also fighting through the challenges of changing positions.
“He played tackle at Wayne and now it’s, ‘Here. Here’s the football.’ So, you’re playing one-handed,” Frye said. “It’s not wrestling in the Schott in the state tournament and it’s not playing Springfield anymore, you’re playing against a really good defense.
“So, all of those guys at center, they’ve taken some lumps and they’ve shown some good stuff.”
Padilla was the third-team center during spring practices behind Carson Hinzman and Victor Cutler Jr. He’ll look to solidify his place on the three-deep in preseason camp, though that could depend on whether Cutler remains at center as Jakob James reenters the mix following offseason surgery.
Better Know A Buckeye
Padilla isn't the first future Buckeye center to never play the position in high school. The latest example is Hinzman. He never played center prior to joining Ohio State and now the former four-star prospect in the 2022 class is the frontrunner to start in the middle of the offensive line for the Buckeyes this fall.
That said, playing time could be hard to come by at center if Hinzman locks down the position for at least the two next seasons. Then again, if Padilla can continue to develop both on the field and in the weight room while also mastering his new position, the job could be his to lose as a junior in 2025 if Hinzman leaves early for the NFL.
A move to guard could also be an option for Padilla as the Buckeyes weigh their options at that position in 2024, when they’re likely to be replacing both Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones with new starters.
Player Comparison: Luke Wypler
Hinzman would certainly be a good comparison for Padilla given their similar transitions, but there’s also similarities with Wypler, who is now playing for the Cleveland Browns after starting at center for the Buckeyes for the past two years.
A four-star recruit like Padilla, Wypler was a three-year starter at tackle in high school but transitioned to center as a Buckeye.