INDIANAPOLIS – As Terry McLaurin, Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon have gone through the NFL Scouting Combine process this week, they’ve had the opportunity to learn from another former Ohio State wide receiver who already knows what it takes to be successful in the NFL.
Santonio Holmes, who played at Ohio State from 2002-05 and went on to play nine seasons in the NFL – most famously, catching the game-winning touchdown pass for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII – has been working with the wide receivers at the combine this week as a mentor, representing the NFL Legends Community.
In an interview with Eleven Warriors on Friday afternoon, Holmes said he has been trying to make sure the wide receivers have an “understanding for what they’re about to get involved with.”
“This is a job that depends on the rest of your life,” Holmes said. “You’re only going to play it for less than 10 years, so therefore you better maximize the opportunity that you get, and try not to blow it.”
Holmes, who spent four years with the Steelers and four years with the New York Jets before playing his final season with the Chicago Bears, said his biggest piece of advice to the incoming class of NFL rookies this week has been to be punctual.
“Being on time, showing up for meetings, not being out late, not partying, taking this job very seriously,” Holmes said.
McLaurin said the biggest thing he has taken away from Holmes this week – as well as from his wide receivers coach at Ohio State, Brian Hartline – has been to listen to his coaches and follow their instructions.
“You’re here for a reason, and be confident in what you’re doing, but be precise as well,” McLaurin said of Holmes’ advice. “If a coach tells you to do it this way, do it that way. Because they’re watching everything that you do. And make sure you have a loaded stance as well was something that he told me, which is something I’m constantly working on. So this little tidbits, I’m going to try to take to tomorrow. It was really helpful.”
Including McLaurin, Campbell and Dixon, Ohio State has 10 total prospects at the combine this week, including several prospects who are projected to be early-round picks, headlined by defensive end Nick Bosa and quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Holmes knows what it’s like to be in a draft class like that; he was one of five first-round picks from Ohio State in the 2006 NFL draft, when nine total Buckeyes were selected in the first four rounds.
Seeing Ohio State have the chance to have another prolific draft class this year is a big source of pride for Holmes.
“Excuse my French, but this is fucking amazing,” Holmes said when asked about the number of Ohio State receivers and total players at the combine. “It’s amazing to know that these guys really tore it up this season and they worked their tail off to be where they are today, and they deserve it.”
Holmes believes Hartline, who he played with during his final season at Ohio State in 2005, played a huge part in preparing Campbell, McLaurin and Dixon for the NFL in his first season as the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach last year.
“He’s the heartbeat right now of the Buckeye receivers,” Holmes said. “Knowing that there has not been an official Ohio State Buckeye receiver to return to coaching for the Buckeyes in a long time, and even under my knowledge who could it possibly be, wow. What a difference this guy did in one year.”
“Excuse my French, but this is fucking amazing.”– Santonio Holmes on Ohio State having three wide receivers and 10 players at the NFL Scouting Combine
Holmes, who lives in the Columbus area, also spent some time around the Ohio State football program and sharing his insight with the Buckeyes’ receivers during Urban Meyer’s last couple years as head coach.
Holmes said he hasn’t talked to new Ohio State head coach Ryan Day about continuing to be involved with the program yet, but wants the Buckeyes to know that he is willing and available to help them.
“I look at this program as if I am a part of those guys, and I want nothing but the best from them,” Holmes said. “So I’m going to continue putting in the effort, being around Ohio State as much as they need me, because I want nothing but the best for my guys.”
Holmes isn’t the only former Ohio State player who has been working with combine participants as an ambassador for the NFL Legends Community this week; former Ohio State center Nick Mangold has also been serving as a mentor for the offensive linemen, including Michael Jordan and Isaiah Prince, and both of those former Buckeyes said Thursday that they have appreciated having the opportunity to learn from him.
“He’s been doing a great job of just keeping everybody level-headed,” Prince said of Mangold. “Especially being an Ohio State alum, just talking to him and really getting to know him, pick his brain, has definitely been a big help since I’ve been here.”