Q&A: Ohio offensive lineman coach Maxwell Riley says 2026 prospect was ‘out of this world excited’ about getting offer from Ohio State
Ohio offensive lineman Maxwell Riley is one of the state’s fastest growing offensive lineman prospects in 2026.
On March 7, he became the first offensive lineman prospect of the 2026 cycle to receive an offer from the Buckeyes after he and his father attended OSU’s first spring training. He is the second state prospect at any position to receive an offer for 2026, the other being Chris Henry Jr.. The OSU offer was his fourth overall, the other three being Toledo, Florida State and Miami.
To find out more about Riley, Eleven Warriors caught up with her high school coach Matt Kostelnik this week to discuss Riley’s ability on the court, his rise in the recruiting industry and his interest in the State of the Ohio. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Q: It’s not too common to see an offensive tackle as young as he is already picking up several top Power Five deals. How did you feel to see his recruitment take off so quickly and what kind of player is he on the pitch?
Matt Kostelnik: From the start, he’s been a fantastic kid. He works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen. He started in the COVID years being stuck at home, he started dedicating himself to getting better. He had a goal he wanted to start in first year. He comes from a good family and has good grades. He was showing big numbers in eighth grade, he was in the top five in weightlifting. I told him afterwards that I would give him an injection and that you do what you want with it. A few injuries here and there to other kids, he stepped up in that first game and took the majority of the reps at right tackle and never looked back. We swapped him between left tackle and right tackle and the kid played really well all year. We couldn’t be happier for him. He works for whatever he gets. To see that happen to this youngster with the caliber of schools that have offered is great. I’ve brought Ohio State over to see our guys before, but I never pulled the trigger. Seeing this process was a learning experience for me and it was kind of fun.
After a great visit and conversation with @ryandaytime, I am extremely blessed and honored to announce that I have received an offer from The Ohio State University!!! @CoachJFrye @etwill21 @DaleRodick @coachkostelnik @CoachLowe212 pic.twitter.com/T2MNMRC9y3
— Maxwell Riley (@bigmax2026) March 7, 2023
Q: When it comes to footwork, hands and bursting, what qualities make him such a coveted offensive line prospect?
Kostelnik: He has the best footwork I’ve ever seen in a kid his size. We knew there was a lot of potential there. He does O-line specific stuff a few times a week, either with us or with a trainer. He’s a shot putter. When coach (OSU offensive lineman) (Justin) Frye came in and asked me what I thought, I told him I could run out of the zone effectively and consistently. for the first time as a head coach. I hadn’t been able to do this before. But we can run alongside Max. It’s the ability of kids to get their hips down, get their hands on people, and finish. He’s the nicest boy off the pitch, he’s got five siblings, but he puts on that helmet and a lot of hate comes out of that heart that you didn’t know was there.
Q: When Ohio State pulled the trigger and proposed to him two weeks ago, were you surprised it happened so quickly or did you have a feeling it might happen soon when his visit?
Kostelnik: Traditionally when Ohio State came along, I looked at when they tend to offer and that’s usually after the second season. So I thought it was a learning session. When he went there, I thought he would have a good opportunity to sit down with those coaches and understand what they were doing. Then I got a text from him saying they were offering. But apparently he was still visiting, so I was calling and texting and he didn’t answer. I was like ‘You can’t let me hang around like this, man, tell me the story.’ It was very exciting and I laughed like a little child. I was at a pro development day and everyone was looking at me like I was weird. I looked at my manager and said, ‘Hey, Max just got offered by the state of Ohio. When he calls, I leave. Principal was cool about it.
Q: Sometimes kids who get big, prime offers from a young age can choose between two methods and either work even harder because it motivates them, or take it easy because they think they’ve succeeded. . From what you said, I’m guessing Max falls into the first category rather than the second, right?
Kostelnik: We sat down and talked about setting some goals. He is on the right 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 the 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-oriented that by having this conversation with him, he’s such a focused kid on something that he’ll do whatever he can to make it happen. I told him to enjoy the night and enjoy the moment, but we looked at Ohio State’s offensive lineman classes and there seems to be a pretty common theme. Tall, thin, athletic guys. You are a big guy and the weight will come. They proposed to you because you have a nice frame, quick feet and are currently leaning towards a big guy. The weight will come in there, that’s one of our big goals over the next two years.
Q: Obviously that’s a big deal for a lot of guys in Ohio when picking up an OSU offer. From what you know, are he and his family Ohio State fans?
Kostelnik: Actually, I don’t know one way or another, so I don’t want to say for sure. But I know he was out of this world excited when he got the offer and he had mentioned Ohio State before he even started the recruiting process. It was a school he wanted to camp at and make a good impression. He was definitely on their radar and he grew up watching them being a kid from Ohio.
Q: When you spoke to him, what was his impression of the facilities and the way the operation is run and all that kind of stuff?
Kostelnik: He loved it, he and his father loved it. He thought everything was first class, thought practices were going great, sat down and had a chat with Coach Frye and then had a chat with Coach Day. They thought it was a well-oiled machine, had a great experience, and had nothing but good things to say about Ohio State.
Q: Obviously he has a lot of desirable traits as a player, but where would you like to see him grow the most over the next two years?
Kostelnik: Hmm, that’s a good question. Just keep working on himself. He’s a great boy, a great teammate, great in class. To me, he’s one of those kids that you strive for, you want your own kid to be goal-oriented too. I want him to enjoy the process and enjoy the experience. Coach Frye told him he still had three long years ahead of him, but they were going to be fun. I just hope he enjoys the process and really soaks it all up, especially being a kid from Ohio and being offered by the Buckeyes.