In what is very likely to be the most hotly contested in-state recruitment of the 2017 cycle, Michigan scored a major coup over rival Michigan State with the late Wednesday commitment of Detroit King star Ambry Thomas, who recently helped lead his team to their second straight state championship at Ford Field.
While Penn State made a late push to get involved, the long-held belief was that Thomas was destined to either be a Spartan or a Wolverine. As a prospect who planned to enroll early at the school of his choice, Thomas and his family decided Wednesday was the time to finally end what became a stressful recruitment.
“It was stressful because the process changed him,” Carmen Thomas, Ambry’s mother, told Wolverine247.com on Thursday morning. “(Ambry) was so stressed out through the whole thing. Before Michigan was the actual choice, there were plenty of other schools who offered and wanted him to become a part of their program. He had some closer personal bonds with (other schools), but at the end of the day, the better decision for him was Michigan in the long-term. Michigan was just the better choice.”
For Thomas, he says the appeal of the Wolverines stemmed from coach Jim Harbaugh’s approach to recruiting and the types of players he wants to build the program around.
“I wanted to accept Coach Harbaugh’s challenge,” he said of the opportunity to compete in Ann Arbor. “You can’t go wrong with life after the game is over there either. It feels good to get the decision made and get to work. It’s the best lifetime choice for me on and off the field and I am looking forward to getting to work under (defensive coordinator) Coach Brown.”
Thomas is currently ranked 32nd overall in the country, according to 247Sports, and has shown flashes of being both an elite player on the offensive and defensive end. While he is a prospect that could see time offensively at some point, he’s being recruited as a cornerback by the Michigan staff.
Perhaps Thomas’ best performance came without the pads on, when he was one of the biggest standouts at Nike’s The Opening event in July. The Opening is a gathering of the nation’s top high school players, who compete in 7 vs. 7 events and other drills. Thomas stood out on both sides of the ball.
“Thomas was the best two-way threat of anybody in attendance,” 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons wrote. “He’s a baller in that he could beat you 40 yards down the field for a touchdown on offense and then line you up defensively and beat you one on one on the same route going the other way. He’s a special athlete.”