Tuesday, June 22, 2010

INCOMING FRESHMAN LOOKS A LOT LIKE ANOTHER BUCKEYE STAR

COLUMBUS — Following Monday's announcement that sophomore wide receiver Duron Carter would be leaving Ohio State to play at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, many Buckeye fans were left asking, "who will be the team's No. 3 pass catcher this season?"

Well, the answer may come in the form of another product from the state of Florida — and no, Santonio Holmes isn't coming back for his final year of eligibility.

But ... the Buckeyes may just be getting the next best thing.

James Louis, an incoming freshman from Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic High School, may have Ohio State fans forgetting about the loss of Carter this season. In fact, according to OSU assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, Louis is closest thing the Buckeyes have had at the position since Holmes.

"He's probably most like Santonio coming out of high school," Hazell said during signing day in February. "Probably a little bit faster, same type of ball skills, toughness, quickness, loves the game. Same things as Santonio was (coming in)."

That is a very lofty comparison.

Holmes, who was also a huge prospect out of Florida in 2002, recorded 140 receptions for 2,295 yards and 25 touchdowns in just three seasons in Columbus. And Hazell is saying that this year's potential No. 3 receiver has the same type of game?

Well, after watching tape on Louis, Hazell is absolutely correct — the similarities jump off the screen (To see tape of Louis, click here). Louis has the same physical build coming in (5-11, 180) as Holmes did, and appears to have the same type of abilities and movement as the Super Bowl XLIII MVP, as well.

However, Louis is scary athletic, even more so than Holmes.

"He's got some ups," Hazell said, referring to his recorded Louis' near 40-inch vertical jump.

Louis also has blazing speed (4.4), something that's been missing out on the edges in Columbus for the past few seasons.

"Explosive" is the word most commonly used when Hazell offers a scouting report of Louis.

"James is really explosive," Hazell said. "Has great hands, great quickness, gets off the jam. He's a little further advanced than a lot of receivers that are coming in, in terms of years past. He loves the game and has a great personality.

"He's just a really explosive guy."

Although Louis committed to the Buckeyes prior to his senior season last July, it didn't prevent some of the major programs, especially in the south, from checking out the Florida star.

Southern powers such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Mississippi all offered Louis to come play receiver for their respective programs. All of the attention had many Buckeye fans shaking in their shoes.

Louis, on the other hand, never quivered about his commitment to the Buckeyes.

"It's always a battle (to recruit) out of state," Hazell said. "It's a continual battle. But he stayed strong throughout the battle. He communicated with us very well throughout the battle."

As you can see, Hazell referred to Louis' recruitment as a "battle." And indeed it was.

It is quite difficult to convince a player to leave the sun and mild temperatures of the south, for the snow and bitter cold of the north.

But in the end, just like Holmes in 2002, Louis decided to leave the surf of Florida for the frozen turf of Ohio.

Hopefully for the Buckeyes, Louis' decision will pay off huge dividends just like Holmes' did.

Maybe even as soon as this fall.

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