Holmes Lights Up Irish, Declares For Draft

OSU junior wide receiver Santonio Holmes ended his college career the right way on Monday. Holmes had five catches for 124 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown. Afterwards, he announced his intention to enter the NFL draft.

Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes went out on top with Monday's 34-20 Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame.

Holmes, a fourth-year junior, told reporters on the field after the game that he intends to declare for the 2006 NFL draft.

"My plans for next year are to enter the NFL draft," Holmes said.

His close friend and fellow wide receiver Roy Hall then chimed in over his shoulder, shouting, "We're going to the league, Baby!"

Holmes, a Belle Glade, Fla., native ended his career in fine fashion. He had five catches for 124 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown catch from Troy Smith in the win over Notre Dame.

"Our guys wanted to get into the end zone as much as possible," Holmes said. "We feel all the time we had a chance to get behind those guys."

The 85-yard touchdown pass to Holmes stands as the second longest TD pass in OSU history, trailing an 86-yard touchdown from Art Schlichter against Washington State in 1979. Holmes also has the fourth longest pass in OSU history, catching an 80-yarder from Justin Zwick against Marshall in 2004.

Holmes ended the year with 11 touchdown grabs and 24 for his career, the third highest total in OSU history.

When asked to sum up his OSU career, Holmes said, "Wonderful. I played with some outstanding players. I think I was a great blocker and a complete wide receiver."

It was no secret that Holmes, who has two young boys, was strongly considering the jump to the NFL. Draft analysts say with this being a weak year for receivers Holmes could be a first-round pick.

"I'm hoping top 10 or top 15," Holmes said. "It doesn't matter. I'm just glad that everything has happened for me. I had a wonderful career here with everything that happened here.

"I talked to Coach Tressel a lot about it. He said, ‘If you have a great game and we win, it would be polite to announce it then.' After that, if we had lost the game, he said if we would have lost I could have just relaxed and announced it later."

Holmes was happy to leave on a winning note.

"After the first drive when they stopped us, we sat back and evaluated ourselves," he said. "We said, ‘We've got to make better plays.' I think we did. I just think I had a good game overall. I helped block downfield on every other play.

"The plays that were called allowed me to get behind their secondary. I thought they were very aggressive in trying to stop our running game. We just had the right play call at the right time."

When asked if he thinks he is ready for the NFL, Holmes said, "No doubt."

Tressel said he and Holmes had discussed the move.

"Santonio talked about it many times," Tressel said. "I've even inferred it quite often when I've talked publicly. He's a fourth-year guy and well along towards his degree. I think it's the right time for him to go. I think he's proven it. In my mind, I don't know how many guys would be drafted ahead of him.

"He's a play maker, return man, blocker, and I always tell my guys, ‘If you're going to be in the first round, you probably need to go,' and Santonio is going to be in the first round."

Likewise, Smith said he will be sad to see his favorite target leave.

"Santonio means a lot to the whole offense," Smith said. "For me as a quarterback, he takes a lot of burdens and situations off my shoulder because he's a student of the game. He understands and sees things just the way I do. Santonio is going to be greatly missed.

"From day one, he's been a great receiver. He's been a great guy, team leader. It's time for him to step up and go to another level. He's done pretty much everything we've asked of him here."

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