Holmes Has Big Goals For 2005 Season

Junior split end Santonio Holmes is back at Ohio State for two big reasons -- to help the Buckeyes try and win another national championship and also to boost his NFL draft status. Holmes talks about both of those goals as well as the media frenzy around teammate Ted Ginn Jr. and much more. Click this free link to check it out.

One glance at the newsstands shows that Ted Ginn Jr. is Ohio State's magazine cover boy for the 2005 football season.

And that doesn't bother junior split end Santonio Holmes, OSU's leading receiver last year, one bit at all.

By all accounts, Holmes has two goals – helping OSU win a national championship and setting himself up for a potential pro career. Whether he or Ginn takes center stage while doing all or some of that is immaterial, Holmes said.

"I just want to get out there and do what I've done the past two seasons and just make plays for the team," Holmes said. "I'm not worrying about any other guy on our team. I'm happy he's getting that kind of recognition because he pretty much deserved it from the things he did last season."

Ginn made a splash midway through last season – just as Holmes was able to do when Drew Carter went down with a knee injury midway through the 2003 season. In fact, Holmes has been a big part of Ginn's success, blocking for Ginn on his four punt returns for touchdowns.

"It's taking his game to another level and also elevated my game at the same time," Holmes said. "The more attention goes to him, the more I feel I need to work on. I can just focus on me and not on what the media is saying about me. If they're only going to focus on one guy, that will be good for our offense."

Holmes passed up a chance to enter the draft this past year. Since he redshirted in 2002, Holmes could have been eligible after last season. He will face another such decision after the upcoming year. He is already hinting that he could make that move if it appears he will be a solid first-round or, perhaps, first-day pick.

"My thing is focusing on my team and focusing on the money year," Holmes said. "This is a year when I have to really show up. I can't have any injuries coming out of camp and I have to be 100 percent ready for the season. This is the year that determines whether I go to the NFL or not."

Since Carter's injury in the seventh game of that 2003 season, Holmes has been a pleasant producer. In the 18 games he has played since then, he has amassed 84 catches for 1,266 yards and 14 touchdowns. That's an average of almost five catches for 70 yards and nearly one touchdown per game.

Last season, Holmes had 55 catches for 769 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had one punt return for a score. His numbers actually tapered off over the second half of the season, though there were good reasons for that.

"We think Santonio Holmes is a great player," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "Early in the year last year, he was about the only guy making plays for us. To the credit of the people we played against, they saw that and they gave him a little bit more attention. Then as some of our younger guys like Teddy Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez got more involved, it eased the burden off of Santonio. If we can get to the point where we can recognize when he is being singled, we need to go to Santonio Holmes because from a receiver standpoint, he's top notch."

Holmes was asked how often he faced double teams last year.

"Toward the later half of the season, probably 70 percent of the time," he said. "The first four games of the season I put up some pretty good numbers. Toward the end, my numbers starting dropping a little bit. That was not only because some other guys were emerging on our team, but I was also seeing some double teams."

Tressel, for one, senses no resentment from Holmes regarding Ginn's status.

"He seems to me to be a low-key guy," Tressel said. "Does he seem like a guy who wants to be thought of as the guy? No. I don't see him walking around like that. Now, internally, like any great competitor I would hope he wants the ball on every snap. Santonio obviously made some great things happen down the stretch, too. He's pretty good."

Holmes realizes that if defenses tilt to try and stop the speedy Ginn, he can gain some favorable match-ups.

"It's going to be great," Holmes said. "I think I can have a breakout season. If a lot of teams single me, then I think they're going to be in a lot of trouble. I know I'm capable of beating any defensive player that lines up against me. We're going to be ready."

Holmes was one of the team leaders who helped guide the team through summer conditioning.

"We made it mandatory," Holmes said of the players' demands of each other. "Pretty much everybody showed up at every workout. We had a pretty tough summer."

Of course, the hard work is continuing with the start of preseason camp. Holmes admits it is a grind.

"Every day you come out, you're going to hurt," he said. "You've got to. That's the only way you're going to get better. You just have to think it's only going to hurt for a short period of time. Then, you go home and feel better. You come back the next day and do it again. It's 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical."

Holmes, himself, missed some time in the spring with a hamstring injury.

"I'd say I'm about 98 percent right now," he said. "Coming out of camp, I'll say I'll be 110. Most guys wouldn't say that coming out of camp, but I'm looking forward to that."

Holmes has been tight with quarterback Troy Smith in the past. However, he also had one of his career-best games – 10 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns against Marshall – with Justin Zwick under center.

"Whatever works for the team – whether it's Justin starting or Troy starting – we're going to need both of those guys to be there to help this team get better," Holmes said.

Besides Holmes and Ginn, the Buckeyes have a host of young receivers to spotlight this year with junior Roy Hall, sophomores Anthony Gonzalez and Devon Lyons and redshirt freshman Albert Dukes. (Dukes, like Holmes, is a graduate of Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Fla.)

"I think we're pretty good," Holmes said of the group. "We're still kind of young, but we do have some experience. After this year, depending on our season, then you can probably compare us to some of the other ones."

When asked who he expects to break out, Holmes said, "Every one of the guys. Just from seeing them make plays in seven-on-seven this summer and seeing what they do in practice, I'm hoping everybody gets a chance to go out this season and showcase its talents."

Holmes' bio in OSU's media guide says he has two young sons, Santonio III and Nicori. He could have easily bolted college for a chance to make an NFL roster this fall. But Holmes was driven to return to OSU – and not only to drive up his draft status.

"National championship – that's the only thing I thought about coming back for, to win a national championship," he said. "I had an opportunity to be a part of the 2002 team. But now I want to be a leader of the 2005 team."

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