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Holmes, Ginn set to lead Buckeyes



Published: Thu, August 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The two receivers expect to help each other to big seasons.

TOLEDO BLADE

COLUMBUS -- As photographers and TV cameramen joust with their equipment and jostle for position, straining to get close to Ohio State's dynamic sophomore, Ted Ginn Jr., Santonio Holmes grins and nods from a safe distance away from the media mosh pit.

The more attention Ginn gets, the better.

Holmes sees the big picture here. With the explosive and sensational Ginn lining up full-time at wide receiver this fall, defenses won't forget about Holmes, but they won't be able to blanket him with double-coverage, either.

Utilizing his world-class speed, Ginn scored eight touchdowns in 2004, but was used mostly to return punts until the final four games of the season when he emerged as a big-time threat at receiver.

Less double coverage

"With Ted over there, I don't expect to have a lot of teams double me," Holmes said. "We've got too much talent on the field now to focus on stopping just one guy. Together, Ted and I help each other by making the defense stay honest."

Holmes, a junior who caught 10 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns in Ohio State's last-second 24-21 win over Marshall early last season, led the Buckeyes in every major receiving category in 2004. Holmes could make a case that some of the buzz around Ginn rightfully belongs to him.

"I don't worry about those kinds of things. I'm happy he gets that kind of focus and recognition, and the way I see it, he deserves it for the things he did last season," Holmes said. "When he takes his game to another level, then it elevates me and my game, too."

Decided against NFL

When Holmes put together a sometimes spectacular sophomore year, on the heels of a freshman season in which he led the team with his 17.2 yards per reception productivity, there was a lot of speculation that he might cash out his chips after two years on the field with the Buckeyes and head to the NFL.

But Holmes fought off the urge to make that jump, saying he could enhance his value as a pro with one more year of seasoning at Ohio State. He does not try to shroud the fact that a solid 2005 would be his final season in Columbus, if he comes out of it projected as a first-round NFL pick.

"That's a move I could have made, but I decided to come back and focus on improving my value as a player, and helping my team," Holmes said.

"I look at this as the money year -- the time when I have to stay healthy, stay focused, and really show my worth. What happens on the field will determine if I go to the pros, or not."

Holmes has played 24 games for the Buckeyes, and caught 87 passes for more than 1,300 yards. He has caught at least one pass in 18 straight games, and also returned punts and kicks for Ohio State.

Lauded by Tressel

"Santonio is a great player," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said, "and for a period of time early last season, he was probably the only guy who was consistently making plays for us on offense. He carried a lot of the load while the rest of our offense was coming along."

As the Ohio State offense matured and Ginn emerged as a potent weapon, and Troy Smith made a strong case for the quarterback job, Holmes saw his statistics drop slightly, but for a very good reason.

"We got more balanced, and had more success running the football, and getting it in other guys' hands," Tressel said. "The teams we were playing against showed a lot of respect for Santonio and focused their attention on him, which allowed some of the younger guys to become more involved in things."




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