Hawk, Holmes Reiterate They Plan To Return

OSU linebacker A.J. Hawk and flanker Santonio Holmes told reporters again Friday they plan to be back with the team in 2005. We have their comments as well as comments and notables from head coach Jim Tressel.

With autumn quarter in the books, the Ohio State football team is hard at work in preparation for the Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State Dec. 29 (8 p.m., ESPN).

One of the biggest headlines coming out of bowl practice Friday were announcements by junior linebacker A.J. Hawk and third-year sophomore flanker Santonio Holmes that they both intend to return to OSU next season.

Earlier this week, Hawk was named an All-American.

"Obviously, it's a big honor to be named to something like that," Hawk said. "But that probably gives you a little more incentive to come out and prove you deserve to get something like that. Coming here and working in a program like this helps you get there."

Joining the long list of OSU's linebacker All-Americans is nice, Hawk said.

"I think that's something you look at when you leave," he said. "I'm part of it right now. You look back at those guys like Marcus Marek, Spielman, Pepper Johnson and those guys. You can't really put yourself in a group like that. I think we have a great linebacking corps as a group and it's fun to come out here and play with them."

And Hawk said he never seriously considered leaving early: "I enjoy what I'm doing here. I'm having too much fun here to leave."

Of course, OSU coach Jim Tressel was excited about that bit of news.

"We never really had any discussions on it," Tressel said. "With A.J. Hawk, every action speaks to the fact he loves being at Ohio State and has some things he still wants to accomplish. Obviously, it's great news. To have A.J. Hawk as part of your team is a special thing."

Holmes said he decided several weeks ago that he'd be back in 2005.

"I made my decision in the middle of the season to stick around another season or two," he said. "I'm sticking with that."

Holmes said he has not even bothered to inquire where he may go if he opted for the 2005 NFL draft.

"I didn't want to feed into that because I thought it might affect my season if I tried to stay injury free and not perform for my team," he said. "I never looked into it. I lot of guys have said, `Hey, there's a good chance you could go out this season. There aren't as many receivers going out and leaving.'

"But I have to decide that myself. I want to stick around another year. There's a lot I still want to accomplish. It's too much to get into detail. It's a lot of studying I need to do to improve my game."

Tressel also appreciated hearing about Holmes' intentions: "That's exciting news as well. I need to come over and hear the news from you guys.

"I think that's a great thing," the coach added. "The closer guys can get to their degrees, the better they can prepare themselves for their goals on the football field, the bigger and stronger and faster and more experience they can get, that's all great."

With Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, OSU has three of the fastest receivers around.

"I'd give us a 97 for speed," Holmes said. "It shows in practice. We have pretty good DBs and we run by them every day in practice. I don't think there are very many DBs out there faster than our DBs."

Holmes said he is bracing for questions in San Antonio about his first name, Santonio.

"I know I'll get asked a lot of questions when I get down there," he said. "I'm going to go home and prepare myself for what to say and what to respond and also try to figure out where the name came from, too."

Holmes said OSU fans and even his teammates botched his name, calling him San-antonio for the longest time: "When I first got here, I was getting called that a lot. I used to get it every day."

But when he started making some big plays, people started getting it right: "I think it probably broke out in the spring game my freshman year. I made a bunch of plays for the team and that's when I started hearing people pronouncing my name correctly."

Also Notable

* It's not official, but it seems that Ginn and others may also run track for OSU this winter and spring.

"I'm not opposed to that at all as long as it doesn't impact schoolwork," Tressel said. "That's always been our stance (about second sports)."

* The coach was asked about rumors that Justin Zwick, unseated by Troy Smith as the starting quarterback, was contemplating a transfer.

"It hasn't come up at all, but I understand those kinds of things being talked about because that just seems to be the way things are nowadays," Tressel said.

Tressel was asked how Zwick has handled being the backup after starting the season's first six games.

"His reaction has been fine," Tressel said. "You can see he's a competitive kid. He wants a chance to get out there and do what he wants to do."

Tressel said he has made no decision whether Zwick may see even spot duty in the Alamo Bowl. Smith remains the clear starter, the coach said.

* Tressel said linebacker John Kerr, sitting out this season, will be undergoing a surgical procedure. But he and all returning players – including LB Mike D'Andrea -- are expected to be ready for spring football.

* Regarding the team's upcoming practice schedule, Tressel said, "We want to have a good, hard thumping practice (Saturday), then give them Sunday off. We haven't hit a couple days in a row for a while, probably since midseason. Then, we want to go hard Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday game plan wise and physically. We'll do the Showtime scrimmage at the end (Wednesday). Thursday, maybe taper off a little. Then, have a couple good hard ones when we get there on the 23rd and 24th, then just do some more game week-type things beginning on the 25th."

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