Why Ambry Thomas 'Is Feeling the Hate' Toward Michigan State

ambry thomas michigan

Why Ambry Thomas 'Is Feeling the Hate' Toward Michigan State

Football

Why Ambry Thomas 'Is Feeling the Hate' Toward Michigan State

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In the summer of 2016, there was a lot of speculation of where 2017 Detroit (MI) King athlete Ambry Thomas would go.

A silent commit to Michigan, there was vocal optimism from rival fans in East Lansing that Thomas would eventually don the green and white. However, in mid-December, Thomas pledged to the maize and blue, and less than a month later, he was enrolled in classes in Ann Arbor.

But, considering the passion behind the two in-state programs, though he’s playing on one side of the rivalry, Thomas is excited that he gets the opportunity to experience it at all.

“It means a lot,” Thomas said. “Growing up, you’re either on one side of the fence or the other. For me, I actually grew up in the middle. Getting recruited, a lot of people thought I was gonna go to Michigan State or whatever, but I ended up here. It’s just a high emotion game for me. I’m ready to play.”

Of course, now that he’s a Wolverine, there’s no love lost between Thomas and the Spartans.

He still has several friends who play in East Lansing, and since Michigan lost 14-10 to MSU a year ago, Thomas says he hears about it “every time I go to Detroit.”

Thomas is still emerging as a player, now in his second year with the maize and blue. But he’s continuing to see more and more playing time — on defense as well as offense. Of course, he already is the team’s primary kick returner.

But, a year ago, when the two programs faced off in Week Six, Thomas was mostly a special teams player as far as his on-field contribution. Still — he got a pretty good taste of what the rivalry is like.

“Now that I’m in it, it’s more intense,” Thomas said. “Because I feel like that dawg (mentality), and that’s what we need. We comin’! It’s gonna be a great game. I can’t wait!”

But how did it compare to how he imagined it would be?

“It was very different,” Thomas said. “I liked the intensity of the game, honestly. Knowing that I know players on the other side, it was fun lining up against each another. I hope we get a lot of that this week. I just hope we come out on top.”

Win or lose on Saturday, Thomas feels good about his decision to come to Ann Arbor.

He continues to integrate himself into the many workings of the team, insisting that the challenge isn’t too much, and that he isn’t spreading himself too thin. And more and more, as we’ve moved forward, we’ve seen Thomas get the ball on offense, or at least be lined up in formation.

But how would MSU have used the versatile athlete? Is that something he ever thinks about?

Not even a little bit, he says. Once he chose Michigan, his only thoughts about MSU are taking the Spartans down.

“Not really,” Thomas said, on if he wonders what it would be like to play for MSU. “I don’t think about that school no more or whatever. I just think about beating them.”

So, now that he’s facing MSU for a second time, and is assured to be playing a more pivotal role, what fuels him this time around?

That is — is this rivalry one more based out of mutual respect or out of hate?

“That’s a good question!” Thomas said. “Right now, I’m feeling the hate in my heart. I just want to get after them. We got disrespected last year.”

Thomas might have the hate in his heart for Michigan State and all things green and white, but it will still be a daunting task this Saturday in East Lansing, as the Wolverines will take on the Spartans at noon EST. MSU just surprised the college football landscape by taking down No. 8 Penn State, in a game that most expected would feature a blowout win by the Nittany Lions.

Michigan, of course, is coming off a lopsided victory over then-No. 15 Wisconsin, and has some confidence of its own riding into this matchup.

But, considering the ramifications of this game, and how pivotal it is for the Wolverines to win, Thomas says that Michigan has to keep everything in check and remain disciplined.

Should that happen, the maize and blue have a great shot to reclaim the Paul Bunyan Trophy.

“It’s very important, we’ve just got to keep on doing what we’re doing,” Thomas said. “It’s just another game, and that’s how we’ve got to go into it. We can’t let our emotions get the best of us. We’ve just got to go out there, play hard and play fast and play Michigan football.”

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