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Chris and Lori Holtmann reflect on the past year, and their transition to Ohio State

Plus, Michael Thomas is the NFL’s best slot receiver and 2 Buckeyes won the Big Ten’s Outstanding Sportsmanship Award.

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NCAA Basketball: Maryland at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“I thought it was done Wednesday night,” Lori said. “I went to bed pretty at peace Wednesday night thinking we had made a decision that we felt good about, but was still hard.”

-Lori Holtmann via Bill Landis,

A year ago today Ohio State men’s basketball officially hired Chris Holtmann to usher in the post-Thad Matta era in Columbus. But even the night before he agreed to take the position, he and his wife had both expected another outcome.

Landis talks to both Chris and his wife Lori in his article about the days leading up to this monumental decision and the whirlwind that would become the next 12 months. It’s remarkable to think back about all the things he had to hurry to do to not only get a complete roster for his new Ohio State team, but to get them ready to compete in just a few short months. All while Lori packed up their family and prepared to make a move to Columbus with little-to-no notice.

Its fascinating to see how all the small things came together in a big way during the course of the crazy 48-hour window this all happened. Landis walks through the meeting with Ohio State AD Gene Smith — which Lori knew must be extra important, because her presence was requested as well — and how Chris Holtmann was paranoid someone would see the Butler coach heading into a motel in Dayton, Ohio.

Lori searching for something red to wear to the meeting — with a closet full of Butler blue — may be the most relate-able thing in the piece.

Even a year later, to read that Lori was getting choked up thinking about the Butler team they were leaving behind, lets me appreciate the type of people the Holtmanns are — off the basketball court — and further lends to my excitement that they’re here for the long haul.

Daniel Kelley via ProFootball Focus

-Daniel Kelley, ProFootball Focus

It’s no secret at this point that Michael Thomas has not just met, but exceeded the already-high expectations from him as he made the transition from Ohio State football to the NFL. Heading into his third season in the league, he’s already notched several New Orleans Saints’ team and NFL records.

Daniel Kelley at ProFootball Focus pulled some pretty incredible stats from Thomas in 2017, and there should be no question moving forward whether or not the Buckeye should lineup in the slot. (Spoiler: He should.)

Kelley notes in his analysis that Thomas was target on 26.7 percent of his routes, with only 11 wide receivers over the past four years hitting the 25 percent (or higher) mark. Even more astounding, is that on plays in which Thomas ran slot routes, he was targeted 40.5 percent of the time (47-of-116 slot routes).

Kelley explains, “Being targeted on 40.5 percent of slot routes is basically unheard of. In the PFF era (2006 to present), it is far and away the highest percent we’ve seen.”

Not only were Thomas’ number of targets eye-popping, but he also averaged 3.63 yards per route out of the slot, good enough to lead the league in 2017 and rank No. 2 in the PFF era — the second-best yards per route last season was Robert Woods at 2.26.

While Kelley acknowledges that it would be tough for Saints’ QB Drew Brees to keep targeting Thomas at the same rate, the fact they were able to connect as often as they were last season is impressive enough. One thing’s for sure, picking Thomas for your fantasy football team in 2018 seems like a pretty safe choice.

“Jincy Dunne (women’s ice hockey) and Nathan Tomasello (wrestling) were recognized by the Big Ten Conference as Outstanding Sportsmanship Award winners on Thursday (June 7).”

-Ohio State Athletics

Two Buckeyes earned some big conference honors on Thursday, claiming the Outstanding Sportsmanship awards for their respective sports. Ohio State had previously nominated one player from each varsity sport (36 in total) to be eligible for the conference honor, by way of earning the program’s 2018 Ohio State Sportsmanship Award.

Ohio State’s news release outlined the requirements for the honor, which included:

“All of the Sportsmanship Award honorees have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, these student-athletes must be in good academic standing and must have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.”

Buckeye Jincy Dunne of the women’s ice hockey team, earned the title Alternate Captain halfway through the 2017-18 season, as well as provided a defensive juggernaut for the team down the stretch, and tied the team-lead with 24 assists. Her career at Ohio State has not been short of accolades, with a list that includes AHCA All-American Second Team, All USCHO Third Team, and WCHA First Team — all in addition to being a three-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and named twice to the Academic All-Big Ten team.

Award winner Nathan Tomasello is just the 15th wrestler in conference history to earn four individual Big Ten titles, and in 2018, somehow managed a 16-2 record despite competing with a torn ACL the entire year. (!!!) His Ohio State career includes an overall 100-8 record and an NCAA title at 125 pounds in 2016. Some of his other career accolades include being a two-time Big Ten Distinguished Scholar, and three-time NWCA All-Academic honoree, all while graduating with not one, but TWO degrees.

Other honorees who earned the 2018 Ohio State Sportsmanship Award but not the Big Ten honor, include; Tracy Sprinkle (football), Andrew Dakich (men’s basketball), Asia Doss (women’s basketball), Megan Choinacky (softball), and Adam Niemeyer (baseball).

Congrats to all these Buckeyes making a name for themselves in their respective sports and in the classroom.

“With a time of 3:31.02, the Buckeyes extended their competition schedule to Saturday for one last race.”

-Ohio State Athletics

The Ohio State women’s 4x400m relay team is headed to the finals thanks to a close finish to claim the last spot to advance at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The relay team of senior Maggie Barrie, sophomore Halimah Barlow, freshman Syaira Richardson, and senior Karrington Winters will compete in the finals on Saturday after running a season-best 3:31.02.

Some of the other Buckeye women to compete on Thursday included senior Chantel Ray, who ran a 13.40 in the 100m hurdles for No. 21 overall, and senior Christine Frederick ran the 10,000m final and finished No. 22 with a time of 35:23.61 — good enough to end her Ohio State career as one of the top 24 in the country. Maggie Barrie may have advanced in the 4x400m relay, but she also ran a 52.80 in the 400m dash, finishing fifth in her heat and No. 16 overall.

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships continues Friday night with several Buckeyes competing in the men’s events, followed by the women’s finals on Saturday.