The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JANUARY 2017 THE WOLVERINE 59   COMMITMENT PROFILE For most of his recruitment, Detroit Martin Luther King four-star corner- back Ambry Thomas was pegged as a Michigan State lean, but at a Dec. 7 ceremony he put a Michigan hat on his head. The battle was close for most of the process, but eventually the No. 2 prospect in the state of Michigan, and the No. 17 cornerback and No. 178 overall player nationally decided to attend the University of Michigan. He admitted that it was tough to make up his mind. "It was hard," Thomas said. "Prob- ably about a week before my an- nouncement, I started leaning toward Michigan a little bit more. I was still in contact with the Michigan State coaches and that was making it hard, but I knew what I had to do. "It had been Michigan and Michi- gan State for quite some time. I had been thinking in my head like, 'How am I going to tell the opposite school?' I just knew I had to be a man and step up." Eventually Thomas did step up and chose the Maize and Blue. He practiced in his head how the conver- sation would go with the coaching staff he didn't pick and ultimately did it for real with the Spartans. "The first person I contacted was Coach D [Mark Dantonio], and he didn't respond right away. Then I contacted Coach [Harlon] Barnett and Coach [Curtis] Blackwell, and I wished them the best of luck and told them I'll see you on the flip side or whatever. Coach D kind of said the same thing once I talked to him. That was it." That type of maturity is something that Martin Luther King head coach Tyrone Spencer has praised about Thomas. As good as the senior is on the field, Spencer lauded Thomas for his characteristics off of it. "He's really developed there over the years," Spencer said. "That's something we preach a lot in the program. We want our kids to stay humble and hungry and continue to work. The guys from last year and this year set the trend, and that's what's expected. "He's a great person. He's a kid who is serious and focused on win- ning. He's somebody who is going to have great success because he's confident in his ability. I think with all of that stuff combined he'll have a great time up at Michigan." Spencer obviously had a lot to say about Thomas's ability on the field as well. "I think Michigan knows what they are getting out of Ambry Thomas," Spencer said. "They are getting a phenomenal athlete and someone who really worked for his improve- ment. He's naturally very fast and athletic, but he really worked on his technique. "Ambry is a little thin, but he's long. When you talk about covering guys, it doesn't get much better than him." Those skills figure to fit perfectly in Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown's scheme. When it came time for Thomas to make his decision, Brown's approach was a huge factor. "Michigan is my type of defense," Thomas said. "It's a man-press type of defense. I'll be assigned to one guy for the whole game, and I like that, just straight up man-to-man defense. "I have a really good relationship with Coach Brown. He's my guy. He's got something really special go- ing on up there, and I'm trying to be a part of it. "I feel like they have a lot of good people up there. They're winning, and they know what they're doing. I'm ready to win. I don't like losing." The Michigan coaches are certainly on the right track to keep the losing to a minimum, and Spencer knows that Thomas will definitely do his part. The 5-11, 165-pounder will have a chance to factor into the rotation next year with the graduations of starting corners Jourdan Lewis and Channing Stribling. Spencer has a lot of confidence in Thomas. "Bry's competitive nature is on an- other level. He is so competitive," Spencer said. "His mentality is just all about getting better and winning. He is one of the best competitors I've ever seen. The level of wanting to get after it is on another level with him." "I think learning the schemes and concepts will be a big deal, but he won't shy away from that. He's go- ing to be a film rat. As long as he gets those little finishing touches, he'll be fine." Thomas ended his high school career as a back-to-back Division II state champion with the Crusaders. He plans to take those winning ways with him to Ann Arbor. — Brandon Brown FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Ambry Thomas has excellent length and speed, and is very fluid. He also has the work ethic and drive to be the best, which is a major plus when combined with his natural abilities. Areas of Improvement: Thomas is a bit thin but has a good frame to add weight. He'll need to do that and get stronger to deal with physi- cal receivers in college. That will also improve his value against the run. Michigan Player Comparison: Thomas compares very well to cur- rent senior Michigan cornerback Channing Stribling. The former three-star corner was a bit taller than Thomas coming out of high school, but Thomas has better long speed and overall athleticism. Both can cover extremely well and use their length to play bigger than their listed heights. — Analysis from Rivals rates Thomas as the nation's No. 17 cornerback and No. 178 overall prospect. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN Detroit Cornerback Ambry Thomas Picks The Wolverines

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