Ambry Thomas Angling to be in Michigan's Cornerback Rotation

Ambry Thomas Angling to be in Michigan's Cornerback Rotation

Football

Ambry Thomas Angling to be in Michigan's Cornerback Rotation

ANN ARBOR, Mich — Michigan second-year cornerback and kick returner Ambry Thomas came to Ann Arbor with loads of hype and potential.

He got the opportunity to return kicks only a handful of games into his freshman season. High school coach Jermain Crowell of Belleville (MI) proclaimed last offseason that Thomas has the potential to be better than former Michigan All-American Jourdan Lewis and current Wolverines CB Lavert Hill — both of whom he coached at Detroit (MI) Cass Tech.

But, in order for that to come to fruition, Thomas has to get on the field at corner — more easily said than done, with the aforementioned Hill, David Long and Brandon Watson all ahead of him on the depth chart.

However, his position coach, Mike Zordich, says that he can see Thomas making the necessary steps. Considering the emphasis that Michigan places on press-man coverage, the staff is really pressing Thomas himself, to make sure that his fundamentals are sound before they, essentially, throw him to the wolves.

Zordich has seen marked improvement since Thomas joined the squad last January to now.

“In his footwork – at the line of scrimmage, with all the man we play, we’re very peculiar about our technique, and at that part of it, he’s gotten better,”  Zordich said. “We’re hard on him. We’re really hard on him about our technique, because we play so much man. We’ve got to be really good with the fundamentals, and that’s where he’s getting better.”

Karan Higdon proclaimed at Big Ten Media Days that Thomas might be the fastest player on the team, to which Zordich added: “He’s fast — he is straight-line fast.”

Currently behind the three “starters” in the rotation, Thomas still has some work to do to get that trust that Zordich is looking to have to consider him a fourth reliable player that can be inserted at will. In part, that’s come from Thomas making correctable mistakes — not unlike his competition at the position a year ago.

Zordich shared on Wednesday what he still needs to work on to become that reliable fourth option and crack the rotation.

“The long ball – they’ve got a couple on him,” Zordich said. “But only because of his technique at the top – he gets all turned around and if he just stays calm and he’ll be in good shape. Which is what he’s starting to learn to do. It’s great to see.”

With that said, it shouldn’t be long before Thomas has asserted himself as yet another go-to option in the defensive secondary.

Even with players like Hill and Long playing at the highest level, and Brandon Watson flying under the radar, Zordich can see a path for Thomas to get into the game on defense, instead of just special teams.

“(It’s) just the growing pains,” Zordich said. “He had a really good spring. Like I said, his fundamentals, his footwork – that’s where he’s getting better.”

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