Santonio Holmes is the latest wide receiver from the state of Florida to join the Buckeye fold. He joins starters Mike Jenkins and Chris Vance, along with top reserve Chris Gamble.
And while Holmes said it was a priority to go to college out of state, he's glad he'll feel right at home with the other WRs.
"It's a great opportunity to play with those guys," Holmes said. "That's one of the first things I noticed when I went up there for my visit (Jan. 25). I thought, 'All these guys are from Florida.' The coaches told me there was a lot of Florida guys, but I didn't think there would be that many at one position. It's going to be fun."
Holmes is from Belle Glade and goes to historic Glades Central Tech -- the school that has produced more NFL players than any other high school in the nation.
"Basically, football means everything around here. From little league up, everyone plays it. It is the thing to do around here. We have nine guys from my team that are signing Division I scholarships tomorrow and two more that are going I-AA. We get a lot of support from the fans and teachers. They look after us. The teachers are involved with our education and our football."
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Holmes caught 34 passes for 954 yards and 13 touchdowns this season as Glades Central went 12-1 and lost in the regional finals. Santonio did not play defense, but said he did return punts.
When asked if he would describe himself as an explosive wide receiver, a game-breaker, the soft-spoken Holmes said, "Yeah."
What are his strengths?
"Quickness, making people miss, good hands."
Holmes runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, but you probably won't see the shifty wideout running straight ahead very often. It's his elusiveness that made him one of Florida's top prospects.
Prior to his visit to Columbus, Holmes was leaning on accepting a 'ship from NC State. But everything changed when he arrived on campus.
"I enjoyed myself a lot at Ohio State. Before I went up there, I wanted to compare everything to North Carolina State. I wanted to see the background of the school, the atmosphere, everything. I just decided that Ohio State is where I need to be. It's a great program and it's an honor to be a part of it."
Was Santonio surprised with the size of Columbus?
"In a way, yeah. Columbus is big and the city is right there close to the campus. There are a lot of
things to do."
Holmes was recruited to OSU by linebackers coach Mark Snyder.
"I got to know a lot of the coaches, but definitely Coach Snyder the best."
The Florida native is excited to be part of one of the nation's top 2 recruiting classes.
"That's a pretty big deal. I'm part of a great program that's bringing in great players. I use to think I'd never be good enough to go to a school like Ohio State. But now that I am I just want to excel. There is so much tradition that they carry and I just want to compete with these guys and get on the field as a freshman."
Is a redshirt year not a possibility?
"One of my goals is not to be redshirted. I want to come in and learn the system and get out there. I think I can pick up systems pretty quick. But I'll do whatever they need me to do."
Any other goals?
"To excel on the football field, get a solid education and just enjoy myself. Getting an education is very important to me. I am going to major in elementary education."
Off the gridiron, Santonio is a starting small forward on Glades Central's basketball team. He also likes playing video games and hanging out with his lifelong friends.
"This is our last few months together. A lot of us are going our seperate ways because of football. I'm going to really enjoy the rest of this year with these guys."
Oh, and about that soft-spoken stuff. Santonio says there's more to him than meets the ears.
"I'm usually very calm, but it's completely different on the football field. You'll see."
Special thanks to Santonio for the interview!