Gonzalez Becoming Key Target For Buckeyes

Cleveland St. Ignatius product Anthony Gonzalez has a bright future at wide receiver for the Buckeyes. Gonzalez came up big with two catches for 77 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown, in OSU's win over Michigan. Click here for more.

He only caught seven passes during Ohio State's regular season, but redshirt freshman wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez is quickly becoming a household name.

It was Gonzalez who hauled in a 68-yard bomb from Troy Smith just over a minute into OSU's 37-21 upset of Michigan last Saturday. The touchdown set the tone for the Buckeyes.

"I think it sent a message to both our team and to Michigan," Gonzalez said. "We were ready. There was no doubt in my mind that we were ready. I think it sent the message to Michigan, `Look, we're here. We're not going to roll over for you. We don't care if you're going to the Rose Bowl and you have your roses sitting in our cooler in the locker room. We're here to fight and we're going to fight you.' "

Gonzalez got behind safety Ernest Shazor and, while Smith bided his time in the pocket, was able to get free. Smith stepped up and heaved the ball as far as he could just as the rush closed in. From the time Smith took the snap until Gonzalez hauled in the pass at the Michigan 20-yard line, some eight seconds elapsed.

"My role on the play is to occupy people and make sure the safety stays away from Santonio (Holmes)," Gonzalez said. "We were both running post routes. Shazor tried to play it right in the middle, which is perfect for us. It just so happened that we had amazing protection on that play. Troy had an enormous amount of time. The ball was in the air and it's just catch it and run after that."

Shazor recovered, but it was too late: Gonzalez had the ball, was able to sidestep Shazor and rolled the rest of the way to his first career touchdown – a play he will never forget.

"There was just so much adrenaline. All I could see was the end zone," Gonzalez said.

Smith was just beginning what would turn out to be a career day at quarterback with 386 yards of total offense. He described what he saw on the deep ball to Gonzalez.

"The first touchdown pass was a double post route with Ted (Ginn) sort of like being in the flat or intermediate, whatever you want to call it, on the corner," Smith said. "That was where I was going to go first. I saw Gonzalez had a couple steps on his man. Santonio was pretty much deep and out of the picture by the time I turned my head around. Gonzalez had his man flat footed. The safety couldn't turn around in time.

"The line gave me just enough protection. (Fullback) Branden Joe, as my teammate told me, held him off just long enough for me to get the ball in the air. Gonzalez made a great play. That's one of the guys on the team that a lot of people forget about. Arguably, he's one of the fastest guys on the team. You can ask Ted if you don't believe me, and he just got a chance to showcase some of his many talents that he has."

Gonzalez made a second catch in the game midway through the second quarter. OSU faced third-and-3 at the Michigan 25. Smith rolled left and threw to Gonzalez, who was in the sitting position. He got his hands under the ball for a 9-yard catch and a first down.

Michigan called a timeout, hoping for a replay. However, all replays indicated the pass was complete. OSU ended that drive with a 21-yard Mike Nugent field goal for a 17-14 lead, a lead the Buckeyes would not relinquish.

"I'm positive I caught that ball," Gonzalez said. "There was no doubt in my mind. I was looking for a flag because I thought the guy was holding me."

Gonzalez talked about how the Buckeyes rebounded from a tough loss at Purdue the week before to win the season's biggest game.

"After last week we all came together," Gonzalez said. "We fought as hard as we could and we came up a little bit short. We all knew that wasn't the end and we could overcome those obstacles if we just eliminated certain things. Today, we did that. After last week, I thought that was going to happen."

When the work was complete, Gonzalez talked about OSU's postgame celebration in the locker room.

"It was amazing," Gonzalez said. "I wanted to go up to all the seniors and shake their hands and say, `Congratulations and thank you.' Without them, it would not have happened. It was a very emotional day."

Gonzalez, a Cleveland St. Ignatius product, was part of a strong Cleveland contingent that represented for the Michigan game. That group also included Smith and Ginn, among others.

"We're a pretty tight-knit group," Gonzalez said. "The guys from Glenville and David Patterson and a lot of the guys from northeast Ohio, we all know each other because during high school you would see each other at a lot of events. You build relationships with them and you become friends and it's fun to go to war with them."

Gonzalez began the year down on the depth chart. But he made his first career catch in the loss at Iowa and has gradually worked his way into OSU's rotation as one of the top four receivers.

"He was a huge factor," said offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. "The way he has come on here at the end of the season, that's been another big aspect for us."


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