Dantonio’s Newest Spartan Commit for the 2014 Brings a Big Attributes to the MSU OL
The Spartan coaching staff spends a significant amount of time attempting to convince high-caliber student-athletes to choose MSU. But in the case of Nick Padla, the roles were reversed. A Spartan at heart, Padla recruited Michigan State until the coaching staff granted his wish.
The talented offensive lineman recently realized his lifelong vision, committing to Michigan State soon after receiving an offer from his dream school. Padla, the 15th member of Mark Dantonio’s 2013 recruiting class, discussed the recruiting process and much more on Spartan Nation Radio with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. on Thursday, September 12.
If Spartan football were a religion, Nick Padla would be a devout follower. The Berrien Springs, Michigan native grew up a mere two hours away from East Lansing. An MSU fan from birth, green and white has flown through his veins since he began to walk.
In the Padla family, Spartan Saturdays are a sacred occasion. The family often makes the trek up to the High Cathedral of Spartan Nation: Spartan Stadium. Nick could walk the grounds blindfolded, as the offensive lineman jokes that he has been to the stadium “a million” times.
If the Padla family cannot make the journey to East Lansing, they always watch the game at home. Nick fits right in with his family of football fanatics.
“My family is a football family. We all watch football all the time, that’s what’s pretty much on TV all the time,” Padla said. “We all love football in my family, even my mom loves football.”
Composed of his mom and dad, plus his brothers Alex and Nate, his family has always supported Nick’s dream of donning the Green and White. Since Padla first picked up a football, he wanted to play for the Spartans on Saturdays. As his high school career progressed at Berrien Springs High School, Padla’s dreams became increasingly more promising.
Gifted with quickness and a great frame (6’7, 280 pounds), Padla appeared to be a lock for a Division I scholarship somewhere. Schools such as Akron, Kent State and Cincinnati looked his way. But not just any school would do for Padla: his heart was set on Michigan State.
The road was not an easy one for Padla. The current senior spent countless hours training and improving in the hopes that MSU would offer him a scholarship. The odds sometimes looked slim, but his father never gave up hope in him.
“My dad has pretty much said, ‘If you really want that, you’re going to get it. You work until they can’t say no,’ and that’s pretty much what I did,” Nick said. “I kept working, working, working, until they said, ‘Wow, we really do need to offer him.’ He’s been behind me since day one and I love him for that.”
To many scouts, though, Padla had one weakness: his lack of experience in the passing game. The Berrien Springs Shamrocks utilize an offense that rushes the ball 90% of the time, limiting Padla’s chances to improve his pass blocking.
“That’s all I work on in the offseason, though, is trying to get better at that because I know I’m going to need to be able to do that at the next level,” Padla said.
A relentless worker, Padla refused to allow his dreams to pass him by. The Spartan coaching staff soon noticed how badly Nick wanted to be a Spartan, and offered him a scholarship.
When Padla learned that his dreams had come true, he was left speechless.
“I had just got back from my game and I was with my coaches. I said, ‘I’m about to call Coach Staten, and I did. It wasn’t a great game by me and we lost, 36-0,” Padla admitted. “But when I called him, he said, ‘I know the game didn’t go as well as you thought it would, but we’re going to offer you a full-ride scholarship because we loved, I loved, how you played in the fourth quarter when you guys were getting blown out by 36 points and you were still playing like you were in the first quarter.’ And that’s what he loved about the game.
“From that moment on, I was like, ‘Did he just say those words?’ It was the word I wanted to hear for so long, and to finally get the words to come out of his mouth, I was just speechless. I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t thank my coaches enough for pushing me through and all the hard work we’ve gone through and all the off-season stuff we’ve done. It was like a whole team celebration. They were so excited, I was so excited.”
As Padla looked back to the experience, he noted how thankful he is for his parents’ unending support for all of his endeavors, which made his path easier.
“If I didn’t get that offer, he’d still be proud of me and that’s my dad: I love my dad,” Padla said. For him to be behind me, some kids don’t have parents behind them. I have my parents behind me and I know that, so I love them for that.”
Before Padla knows it, he will be joining another supportive and caring family: the Spartan Nation. With the heart of a true Spartan and a tireless work ethic, Padla should be a perfect fit in East Lansing. One characteristic he shares with many enthusiastic Spartans is his love of practice.
“I just love being around my teammates and I know if I give my best effort in practice, my teammates will give their best effort,” Padla said. “So by me giving my best effort, we’re going to get better every single day. If you work hard in that practice, you know you’re going to get better. Just don’t go to the practice thinking, ‘Oh I have another football practice, I got to get through this.’ Just have fun, work hard, and you’ll come back the next day ready to work again.”
Padla is also prepared to be the quintessential role model for future Spartan players. Asked to give advice to the young listeners of Spartan Nation Radio, Padla said, “All they have to do is work hard every single day. That’s been my motto since I’ve wanted this. I work hard every single day, and if I feel that someone’s working harder than me, than I just have to go back and get the next day. It’s all a mental thing. You can be smaller, but you still can play.
“If you think you can play, you can play. That’s how I go at it,” Padla said. “I might not be the biggest guy out there, but I’m going to show you that I have the most heart and I’m just going to work way harder than you. Working hard is what pays off in the long run.”
Most times, top notch college football programs have to search for student-athletes with quality. Luckily for the Spartans, Padla sought out Michigan State. The offensive line commit from southwestern Michigan has amazing potential. With the heart of a Spartan and a solid work ethic to match, Nick Padla’s prospects at Michigan State look promising.