2019 Season Countdown: #11 Ambry Thomas

2019 Season Countdown: #11 Ambry Thomas


August 20, 2019
Ambry Thomas (image via MLive)

Name: Ambry Thomas
Height:
6’0″
Weight:
182 lbs.
High school:
Detroit (MI) King
Position:
Cornerback
Class:
Junior
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

10 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1447
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Aug 20, 2019 at 9:13 AM

    We can talk for days about DT being a detriment to a B1G title, but without solid CB play, we’d get destroyed in a playoff

    I hope zordich can work some magic, but recruiting hasn’t produced much to work with for the year

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1184
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Aug 20, 2019 at 10:51 AM

      CB is the other position that Harbaugh has really neglected in recruiting. Long and Hill, both great, but you can’t rest on those laurels for 2-3 years. If you want to play at a championship level, you have to bring in guys that good every year. We saw against OSU last year what happens if you don’t.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5151
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 20, 2019 at 11:42 AM

        It’s been pretty bad. Sims skipping town was a bummer and the 2020 recruiting is unexceptional too. Where are the top tier CB recruits? Michigan barely seems involved. They don’t seem to be profiting off the success of Lewis, Long, and Hill at all.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 20, 2019 at 10:18 AM

    Michigan’s biggest positional concerns headed into the offseason were arguably: DT, CB, and RT. Thomas and Steuber are down indefinitely and Dwumour has been limited by injury continuously, to the point that he’s fallen down the depth chart.

    Ben Mason and Jalen-Kelly Powell are in the 2-deep at positions that rotate frequently and our top backup OT is probably practicing at OG. I am not encouraged by these happenings.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1184
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      WindyCityBlue
      Aug 20, 2019 at 10:55 AM

      Yeah, sliding a guy over to CB when he hasn’t done much at safety does not inspire confidence.

      Hoping that Dax Hill comes along faster than Thunder thinks he will. We’re going to need another big time playmaker back there.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5151
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Aug 20, 2019 at 11:39 AM

        The ‘nickel corner’ is supposedly going to be a safety this year. That seems like a natural spot for Hill to step into, but will he beat out JKP, Woods, etc?

        I really hope so. They should have JKP focus on a CB role at this point given the lack of depth, even if somebody like Turner pops.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5151
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Aug 20, 2019 at 11:36 AM

    Zordich has earned faith. But sometimes it takes time – Clark and Watson weren’t ready contributors until they were upperclassmen. Hill and Stribling got worked as freshman. Lewis wasn’t a starter right away. etc. And those are the success stories.

    I think confidence in Zordich extends to Thomas and Gray because they’ve had buzz since they got to campus and Thomas has looked very capable as a backup. Beyond that, I’m skeptical. A freshman like Turner or Hill seems more likely to be a quality player than some of the vets Zordich has been working with. JKP has bounced around. Green’s drawn nothing more than “is on the roster”-level praise.

    Michigan has not reloaded well enough at cornerback. Turner and Perry are critical players for the next 4 years — they really shouldn’t be at this stage. I expect to see multiple position-switches to CB between now and spring, from safety and/or WR.

  4. Painter Smurf
    Comments: 260
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    Painter Smurf
    Aug 21, 2019 at 11:10 PM

    I’ll say it… Thomas has not looked like a natural CB to me. His speed is intoxicating, but not sure the instincts or reaction/anticipation skills are up there with some of his predecessors. Under different circumstances, I would like to have seen what he could do at WR. Regardless, hope his colitis goes into remission and he takes a big step developmentally.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 1447
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Aug 21, 2019 at 11:27 PM

      I might have agreed, but he didn’t look natural at WR either. Crazy, considering the amount of eval he went through as a HS prospect

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3215
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Aug 22, 2019 at 12:49 PM

      You’re right. He’s more slot receiver to me.

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