Name: Ambry Thomas
Weight: 182 lbs.
High school: Detroit (MI) King
Jersey number: #1
Last year: I ranked Thomas #29 and said he would be a nickel corner and special teamer (LINK). He made 9 tackles, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and 1 pass breakup; he caught 2 passes for 5 yards; and he returned 19 kickoffs for 412 yards (21.7 yards/return) and 1 touchdown.
TTB Rating: 90
Thomas was a highly touted cornerback prospect who has not taken the path to excellence that many expected. Blocked by two very good corners in David Long and Lavert Hill, Thomas has spent much of the past couple seasons working on special teams or dabbling on offense. During the 2018 season, Brandon Watson had a lot of success as the third corner, too. Thomas showed flashes – such as a 99-yard kickoff return against Notre Dame in the opener – but they were somewhat rare. In the final three games of the season (Indiana, Ohio State, Florida), the only appearance on the stat sheet for Thomas came on 6 kickoff returns against Ohio State. (On a side note…that game included way too many kickoff returns.)
This was expected to be a breakout year with Long off to the NFL and Watson having graduated. Unfortunately, it has not worked out that way so far. Jim Harbaugh said Ambry Thomas was not on the 110-man roster to start August camp, and he is not practicing after dealing with colitis. He will likely be back, but when? And will he be physically capable of excelling when he does return?
Michigan has had good cornerback play since Jim Harbaugh and Mike Zordich arrived in Ann Arbor. This list was made prior to the announcement of Thomas’s afflicition, so the Wolverines will be down the #11 player right off the bat. Now the job will likely fall to Vincent Gray, a late 3-star offer from the class of 2018. Jaylen Kelly-Powell has moved from safety to corner to mitigate the loss of Thomas, but that takes the second cornerback spot from a somewhat unknown in Thomas to basically complete unknowns. Kelly-Powell and the other options (Gray, D.J. Turner II, Jalen Perry, and Gemon Green) have barely been on the field, if at all. Cornerback is probably the biggest question mark on the team.
Prediction: Starting cornerback by end of season; 15 tackles, 1 interception
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