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Old 01-15-2009, 09:25 PM   #1
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Default Glades Central grad Santonio Holmes makes name for himself with Pittsburgh Steelers

Glades Central grad Santonio Holmes makes name for himself with Pittsburgh Steelers

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, January 15, 2009

As preparations for Sunday's AFC Championship Game wound down Thursday, Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Belle Glade native Santonio Holmes was thinking back to another playoff game, this one seven years ago between Glades Central and Jupiter.

"I didn't catch a pass, but I did have seven pancake blocks," Holmes recalled by phone from the Steelers' locker room in Pittsburgh.

"It's a game that stands out," said Willie Bueno, who coached Holmes and the Raiders but has since moved on to American Heritage. "He was the leading receiver in the county that year. He didn't have a catch, but he was just as excited about making those blocks.

"I saw then he was an unselfish guy, one who would do whatever the team needed to win."

The receiver Bueno called "as good as anybody I've ever seen" went on to star for three years at Ohio State before becoming the Steelers' first-round pick in 2006. Last Sunday he set a record for the longest punt return in franchise playoff history, going 67 yards to tie the game in the first quarter as Pittsburgh rolled to a 35-24 divisional playoff win over San Diego.

After breaking out in his second NFL season in 2007, Holmes, 25, played more of a secondary role behind veteran Hines Ward this year. But Holmes had his moments as Pittsburgh won the AFC North title and advanced to Sunday's third showdown against division rival Baltimore for a shot at the Steelers' second Super Bowl appearance in four years.

"Week in and week out, I've been making at least one splash play the team recognizes," Holmes said.

Holmes, who totaled six catches for 82 yards and two touchdowns in two wins against the Ravens this season, said the Steelers are confident about pulling off the trifecta.

"We've played pretty good against Baltimore so far," he said. "We've done enough to win those two games, but we also know 'doing just enough' is not going to be enough this time."

Milton Watson, who coached Holmes as a sophomore at Glades Central, recalled his first big splash late that season against Fort Lauderdale-Dillard.

"It was 0-0 at the half, and I think the first play afterward we threw to him and he went for a TD," Watson said. "He caught three or four balls for touchdowns and just broke the game open.

"He was great running the slant (pattern)," Watson added. "You didn't have to throw deep to him. He'd just catch it and take off. That's what separated him from a lot of receivers."

Bueno said in his last two seasons, Holmes became a go-to guy for off-the-field matters, as well.

"He was a captain for us, and always a leader,'' Bueno said. "Coaches need top players they can go to when they need to get a message across to the team. He was good that way. And he always had positive things to say around the team."

Then-Florida coach Ron Zook wasn't recruiting the Glades area when Holmes in school, so he chose Ohio State, where his receiving corps also included the Dolphins' Ted Ginn Jr. and Indianapolis' Anthony Gonzalez.

"He had a lot of raw talent when he got here," Buckeyes receivers coach Darrell Hazell said. "But he always worked and listened, and got better day by day. He'd do a lot of the little things you want to see in a receiver: creating separation, keeping his hips up the field, running sound routes."

Hazell said he had no second thoughts when Holmes entered the NFL Draft after his junior year.

"He was one of the best of that class. He knew enough mentally to handle it, and he's as physically gifted as I've seen."

Hazell said Holmes, a 5-foot-11, 189-pounder, has the "complete game.''

"He's great on the slant pattern, and you have to be tough to go inside like that and catch it in traffic,'' Hazell said. "He's also got the speed to go by guys. And he's the best blocker I've seen by far since I've been coaching receivers."

After debuting with 49 catches for 824 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie, Holmes led the Steelers in receiving yards (942) and touchdowns (8) while averaging a league-best 18.7 yards per catch in 2007.

This year's numbers, while solid, are less impressive: 55 catches, 821 yards, five scores and a 14.9 average.

"My season has been up and down," Holmes said. "But I'm a strong-minded guy, and I know anything is still possible."

Watson recalls Holmes being a student-athlete who "never got in trouble, and was good in the classroom, as well.''

But Holmes has found trouble since joining the Steelers. He's been arrested three times, including a disorderly conduct charge in Miami Beach in May 2006, a domestic violence charge a month later, and a marijuana possession charge last October that resulted in him sitting out a loss to the New York Giants.

No charges have been filed in any of the instances.

"That's something I won't even think about right now," he said. "I've got bigger and better things to worry about, like winning this AFC Championship Game."
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:08 AM   #2
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Default Re: Glades Central grad Santonio Holmes makes name for himself with Pittsburgh Steele

Good read on Holmes. Here's to Holmes having another big play for us on Sunday. We are going to need everyone on offense to play big. Here's to Holmes helping the Steelers getting to Tampa.
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:57 AM   #3
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Default Re: Glades Central grad Santonio Holmes makes name for himself with Pittsburgh Steele

I'd love to see him pancake block someone on Sunday. Can you imagine Holmes and Ward both starting to hit people downfield.

Good lord the ratbirds wouldn't know who to look out for down the field. Are they going to catch it or knock their block off!?

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