Ambry Thomas announced that he will skip his senior season to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.
Thomas attended Detroit (MI) King and was a star early in his career. I remember seeing his sophomore highlights and thinking he was the fastest football player in the state, regardless of class. He was ranked as a 4-star, the #12 cornerback, and #90 overall in the 247 Composite, and he was selected for the Army All-American Bowl. I gave him a final TTB Rating of 90 (LINK). Here’s my commitment post for him from 2016 (LINK).
Hit the jump for the rest of the post.
Thomas didn’t do much as a freshman at Michigan, because the Wolverines were well stocked at cornerback with Lavert Hill, David Long, and Brandon Watson, among others. He did most of his work on kickoff returns (20 returns for 396 yards). That continued to be his primary gig in 2018 (19 returns for 412 yards) when his shining moment was a 99-yard touchdown return against Notre Dame. He finally stepped into a starting cornerback role in 2019, but only after a summer bout of colitis threatened his season. He ended up starting the season opener and having a great game (3 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FR, 1 INT). He ended the year with 38 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 pass breakups.
54 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions (for 6 yards), 5 fumble recoveries, 1 forced fumble, and 5 pass breakups
2 catches for 5 yards (2.5 yards/catch)
1 rushing attempt for 11 yards
39 kickoff returns for 808 yards (20.7 yards/return) and 1 touchdown
Third Team All-Big Ten (2019)
As with just about any player who leaves before his final season, Thomas’s career feels incomplete. Obviously, that’s partly because it is. But it’s also because we never saw him reach his ceiling. Some players “leave early” and you understand why because they have nothing left to prove. That’s not the case with Thomas. He had all kinds of enticing talent. Michigan dabbled with using him on offense as a sophomore, and he had that great kick return against the Fighting Irish. And while he was excellent as a junior in 2019, you wonder about what iconic plays he might have made that could go in highlight videos for years to come – Jourdan Lewis’s leaping INT against Wisconsin, Charles Woodson’s one-handed INT on the sideline against Michigan State, etc. Thomas and Lewis are probably the two most talented corners to play for the Wolverines during the Jim Harbaugh era.
I WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR . . .
. . . that kickoff return against Notre Dame. Kickoff return touchdowns are majestic by nature, and this one fits right in:
As with Jalen Mayfield, who declared for the draft a few days ago (LINK), it’s really difficult to project how players will fit in. We don’t know how many players will leave early, if any players from the SEC/ACC/Big 12 – who are still planning to play – will stand out, etc. Thomas does not seem to have the resume to be a high draft pick, but I think I would be interested in him around the third round.
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