Holmes Enjoys Spotlight At Flanker

OSU sophomore flanker Santonio Holmes received some national acclaim following his big 10-catch, 224-yard, two-touchdown game against Marshall. Click here for more on this special talent as well as his thoughts on this week's game at N.C. State.

Through two games, the biggest play maker on the Ohio State offense has been sophomore flanker Santonio Holmes.

The 5-11, 185-pound Holmes has 14 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns in OSU's wins over Cincinnati and Marshall. This past week, Holmes earned Cingular Wireless/ABC Sports All-America Player of the Week honors as he caught 10 passes for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in OSU's 24-21 win over Marshall.

Quarterback Justin Zwick found Holmes for touchdown passes of 80 and 53 yards against the Herd. Holmes' big day is even better when you consider he missed the third quarter due to dehydration issues.

"Santonio also went through 1-1/2 bags of intravenous fluid in the third quarter," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "He had a big day. I'm glad he stayed out there on that last drive instead of going in to get rid of some of those bags, which was discussed."

Tressel elaborated on the things Holmes is bringing to the table right now.

"Santonio continues to make big plays for us," he said. "But maybe most important, he continues to do a good job of leading the receiver corps. He does a great job in the film room with those guys, he does a great job with the young receivers talking to them about the importance of the scout team and giving our defense a great look and giving great effort in learning how to make plays at this level and when you have leadership in each of your meeting rooms, you have a chance to have a good football team."

Holmes' 224-yard performance is the second-highest yardage total in OSU history, surpassed only by Terry Glenn's 253-yard showing against Pittsburgh in 1995.

Even more telling, in the 7-1/2 games since Holmes stepped in for the injured Drew Carter midway through last year, Holmes has amassed 43 catches for 812 yards and 10 touchdowns.

With numbers like these, Holmes could make a serious assault on the OSU receiving record book. He will have to maintain a high level of play, though, to threaten David Boston's records of 85 catches and 1,435 yards, set in 1998, or Glenn's mark of 17 touchdowns, set in 1995.

"I have been looking (at the records)," Holmes admitted. "I looked at it a whole lot my redshirt freshman year. But it really doesn't matter now. We just need victories to get us back to the national championship game.

"I just want to have my best year as a receiver. I just want to be a leader and try to help out as much as possible."

Holmes appreciates the way he and Zwick have established an instant chemistry.

"That's great," he said. "It's fun knowing that your quarterback has faith in you and you're capable of making the big plays when you need them. We've been going through the same things for three years in our practices. It's just very exciting."

Obviously, the Buckeyes (2-0) will face a tough test Saturday when they visit N.C. State (1-0). It will be OSU's first road game of the season.

"Both of us have a lot of young guys who are willing to work hard," he said. "We have to go down there with great focus and determination and try to pull out a victory. We have to play with the same confidence we have at the ‘Shoe.

"I think it is exciting to go on the road and put up a victory in another team's place. It shows that you guys have character. You guys have heart. No matter where you are, you can still play like you do at home."

Holmes fumbled after making a late pass catch in Saturday's game. That is one of seven turnovers the Buckeyes have committed this year.

"I think it will be hard on the road to make mistakes," he said. "We have to be as careful as possible. We can't make any fumbles or false starts, no holding, no pass interference. Everything has to be on point this week and we have to be ready to play those guys because they're going to take full advantage of every mistake we make.

"Their defensive backs are very aggressive. They get up in your face, they press and they play very hard.

"No turnovers will be a big key. We have seven turnovers and our defense hasn't forced any. We've tried a new thing with our defense that every dropped ball that touches the ball to pick it up and run with it, to scoop it and score. We're kind of hoping eventually our defense will make plays for us."

Interestingly, this Belle Glade, Fla., native chose Ohio State over N.C. State in 2002.

"Before coming to Ohio State, that was one of my top choices," he said. "I had narrowed it down pretty quickly to just North Carolina State and Ohio State."

And why did he pick the Buckeyes: "Tradition, family, just a love everybody has for the game around here. I never really understood what it meant to be a Buckeye, but Coach Tressel has taught me a lot."

Holmes was sporting a Lance Armstrong wrist bracelet, a memento he says helps him get through tough times.

"I bought it because I saw a lot of other guys wearing it," he said. "Then, it got to me over the summer. I was wearing it and every day I felt like I was hurt or in seven-on-seven workouts, I would look at it and it would push me to have a better day.

"I just think about the way Lance Armstrong has lived his life and the way he has been fighting through all of his cancer problems. I think about coming in and having an injury and not feeling like practicing. But then you think about what he did to win six straight Tour de Frances. He kind of propelled himself through the pain."

Holmes said he likes to wear it during games: "I try to. They made me take it off during the Marshall game. But I had it on for the first game."

Holmes was one of the few holdovers from last year on offense. But he has enjoyed his time working with some new faces this season.

"It's been a great experience," he said. "We have a lot of young guys who make mistakes. But you just have to overcome those type of things. With Justin throwing interceptions, our defense has still played great and all of us on offense are on the same page. It's still a great thing.

"It doesn't really matter if you throw interceptions or you don't force turnovers if you get the job done. You go in the next week and work on the things that did happen or did not happen and work to correct the mistakes."

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