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Chris Holtmann has a lot of roster to work with next season

Despite losing four players, the second-year coach has veteran talent, transfers and true freshmen to take over this fall.

Big Ten Super Saturday: Ohio State v Minnesota Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

“Much like it did the first year under Holtmann, the starting lineup will likely be pretty fluid once the season tips off. There are a lot of new pieces to work with in year No. 2, and it will take a few games to see what lineups work best together in game action.”

-James Grega, Eleven Warriors

Chris Holtmann managed to do a lot with a little in his first year as head coach at Ohio State. However, in retrospect, he actually had a lot of talent on a limited roster. Keita Bates-Diop wound up being named Big Ten Player of the Year. Jae’Sean Tate ended his senior year with 1,512 career points. Kam Williams continued to be a threat from range, and Andrew Dakich proved to be an excellent addition as a grad transfer. Holtmann himself earned Coach of the Year honors as he was able to merge this veteran talent with young, unproven players to lead his squad to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Unfortunately for Holtmann, the four aforementioned players will not be on the roster next season. Bates-Diop is foregoing his final year of eligibility and is a likely first-round pick in the NBA Draft in June. The other three have no eligibility remaining. Still, all hope is not lost. Holtmann was very creative with his lineups last season, giving 13 players time on the court which will prove valuable now that much of the veteran leadership is gone. In particular, center Kaleb Wesson ended last season averaging 10.2 points per game and has an opportunity to play an expanded role in 2018-19. Guard C.J. Jackson will be entering his senior season and will likely be the de facto starter at point guard next season. Forwards Kyle Young and Andre Wesson also look to figure into the early starting lineup.

Additionally, Holtmann has made Ohio State an attractive landing spot for transfers, including Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods and Florida State guard C.J. Walker, bringing ready-made veteran talent to the young team. The coach has also enhanced the recruiting pipeline in a single season, drawing in four-star recruit Luther Muhammad, who will likely start at shooting guard come the fall.

“With an enviable mix of young talent and experienced players who returned for their final year of eligibility, Ohio State should be in position to produce another big haul in the 2019 NFL Draft.”

-Ryan Ginn, Land of 10

The dust may still be settling on the 2018 NFL Draft, which saw seven former Buckeyes selected, but analysts are already eyeing a number of current Ohio State players who could be taken early on in the 2019 draft.

First, and perhaps most obvious, is defensive end Nick Bosa, who will be entering his third season at Ohio State this fall. A five-star recruit coming out of high school, expectations were through the roof for the younger Bosa before he even stepped onto the field at Ohio State, not the least due to the fact that his brother was selected third-overall in the 2016 draft. However, Bosa delivered and then some, earning Big Ten defensive lineman of the year honors on a unit which featured three draft picks this year. Some analysts are already projecting Bosa as the top pick in 2019.

H-back Parris Campbell, who is coming back to Ohio State for his senior season, also has potential first-round talent, with one mock draft picking him to go 31st-overall. Credited as one of the fastest players on the team, Campbell could be a game changing type of player at the next level. He is also joined by a host of other draft-eligible receivers, including Johnnie Dixon, Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor and K.J. Hill.

Defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones opted to return to Columbus for his redshirt junior season, despite being listed as a possible first-round selection in the 2018 draft. Urban Meyer had high praise for Jones’ spring practice, stating, “The guy probably that has probably had the best spring of anybody on our team this spring is Dre’Mont Jones.”

Finally, and unsurprisingly, Kendall Sheffield could be the next in line of first-round talent at defensive back. Like Bosa, Sheffield came to Columbus as a five-star recruit. The corner continued to improve throughout the 2017 season, and new cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson praised Sheffield’s effort in spring practice in improving his technique.

“I’m telling you here today, 212 days from now, your Michigan Wolverines team will go down to Columbus, march into that stadium and we will beat you know who to bring back that familiar feeling of victory back to the University of Michigan again.”

-Charles Woodson, via Barrett Sallee, CBS Sports

A former Michigan great had some fighting words for his collegiate rivals over the weekend. Heisman Trophy winner and future hall of fame defensive back Charles Woodson spoke at Michigan’s commencement Saturday and pronounced that, come this fall, Michigan will break its six-year losing streak to Ohio State in Columbus. Woodson never mentioned Ohio State by name, but referred to the team as “you know who” in what probably was not actually--but could have been--a veiled reference to Harry Potter’s arch nemesis, Voldemort.

The recent trend of the rivalry has to be painful to Woodson, an Ohio native, who went 3-0 against Ohio State while playing at Michigan from 1995-97. Woodson starred on both offense and defense and was a standout on special teams, returning a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown in 1997 which all but locked up the Heisman. In his speech, Woodson referenced former Heisman winner Desmond Howard, also a native of Ohio, who managed a similar punt return against the Buckeyes in 1991. Woodson wound up being selected fourth-overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 1998 NFL Draft. The all-around player stated that the fact the senior class at Michigan graduated without beating Ohio State “hurts my heart.”

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was at the helm of the Wolverines for the rivals’ three most recent matchups. Meanwhile, in Columbus, Urban Meyer holds a sterling 6-0 record against TTUN. Heading back to the days of Jim Tressel, Ohio State has won 13 of the last 14 matchups, the only loss coming in Luke Fickell’s interim head coaching year. The Buckeyes took the most recent iteration of The Game 31-20 in Ann Arbor, rallying after going down 14 in the first half.

In other recent rivalry history, the spot was good.