Player Spotlight - Joel Penton

Defensive lineman Joel Penton from Van Wert, OH is a versatile player who could end up at end or tackle for the Buckeyes.

"Only practice will tell," Penton said. "I really don't have a preference between either one. I just like to play football."

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Penton was a DE his first three years in high school, before moving to middle linebacker as a senior.

"My coach moved be there to free me up a little bit, so I could run sideline to sideline and make plays."

And make plays he did. Penton had 119 tackles and eight sacks, earning him the Division III co-defensive player of the year award along with future Buckeye Mike Kudla.

"That was a huge honor. It took me by surprise because it was my first year playing linebacker and my stats were actually better last year."

Penton runs the 40 in just under 4.8 seconds and thinks he can keep his speed even with some added weight.

"If I end up at tackle, I think I could carry 290 without a problem. But I don't want to sacrifice any speed or quickness."

Penton committed to the Buckeyes last May, fairly early in the recruiting season. Ohio State won out over Northwestern for his services.

"I looked pretty hard at Northwestern. They have great academics and I knew I wanted to play in the Big Ten. I also want to become a Methodist minister one day and they are a Methodist school.

"But I was born and raised in Ohio and going to Ohio State just felt right. I was comfortable with everything, first and foremost with the coaching staff."

Penton kept in touch with quarterbacks/wide receivers coach Joe Daniels the most.

"He recruits my area of the state and we probably spoke every week. I also talked with defensive line coach (Jim) Heacock a lot."

Penton is president of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes branch and has also delivered sermons at his church on occasion. Head coach Jim Tressel is also active in the FCA. Did that play a role in Penton's college choice?

"I don't think so. But it was a huge plus."

Penton met several of his fellow recruits at OSU's elite camp last June and has kept in contact with most of them.

"I know just about all the guys in our class. Justin (Zwick) and I are going to room together."

What does he think about being touted as the No. 2 class in the country?

"I'm very privileged and excited to be a part of it -- I'm coming in with some great football players. But the biggest thing I've noticed is that they are all great people. Every one of them. That's what really stands out about this group."

Has Penton set any goals for his first year? Is not redshirting one of them?

"You know, I really haven't set any goals. Whatever they want me to do is fine. If I redshirt, that's fine because I'll get an extra year. But if I don't, that's fine because I'll be playing."

Penton described his strengths and weaknesses.

"I think my strength is in my preparation. I like to study a lot of film, it helps me anticipate where the play is going. Also my effort, I really don't hold anything back. I give it my all every play. But that's how just about everyone is in college ball.

"My weakness depends on where I end up. If I'm a D-end, I'll want to work on my speed. If I'm a tackle, I'll have to get stronger."

Penton admits that "I would probably be a little more comfortable at end, just because I've played there more," but reiterated that he really doesn't care where he plays.

"It's more physical at tackle and I like that. The few times I played nose guard in high school it was a lot of fun."

Like OSU defensive tackle Tim Anderson and new special teams coach Luke Fickell, Penton is a former high school wrestling standout. He placed third in the state at 215 pounds as a junior, but did not grapple this year.

The well-spoken Penton carries a 3.8 GPA at Van Wert. He wanted to study theology at OSU, but no such major exists.

"So right now, it looks like I'm going to do independent studies and they are going to let me basically create my own major. Something involved with public speaking."

Penton is excited that the Bucks open the season a little early this year, he can't wait to hit the field. But what about Ohio State is he most anxious about?

"Just experiencing the college atmosphere and meeting new people. I'm really looking forward to it."

Special thanks to Joel for the interview!

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