Is Ambry Thomas' Role on Offense Increasing?

Is Ambry Thomas' Role on Offense Increasing?

Football

Is Ambry Thomas' Role on Offense Increasing?

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — If there’s a program in the Michigan – MSU rivalry more likely to sprinkle in some unforeseen looks, it’s the Spartans. But how sure of that are you?

Michigan State has something of a penchant for trick plays being the deciding factor — not just in this rivalry series, but also in other big matchups. Look no further than its early 2010s series against Wisconsin for proof of that.

But, Michigan has shown a propensity, especially in recent weeks, that it will tinker around on the offensive side of the ball. We’ve seen cornerback Ambry Thomas on offense, a formation with both quarterbacks Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey on the field, and even a play where wide receiver Grant Perry threw a pass to tight end Sean McKeon.

The former-most mentioned is a certainty to see more and more at this point. Thomas has seen plays going back to the Western Michigan game. So, what’s the prognosis for seeing him on offense against Michigan State? Considering he’s made it onto that side of the ball here and there in recent weeks, even he says it’s pretty likely he gets some offensive snaps on Saturday in East Lansing.

“Yeah, we might slip something in here or there, but yeah,” Thomas said. “I’m pretty sure everyone knows I’m out there.”

The last time Ambry Thomas was in Spartan Stadium, he was decked out in MSU gear on his official visit. This year, he’ll look to make Michigan State pay.

Coach Harbaugh told Thomas that he would get some offensive snaps after the Notre Dame game, a game in which he scored a touchdown on a kick return.

Now, the speedy athlete is getting more and more comfortable with the ball in his hands. While he has 2 receptions or 5 yards and one rush for 11, it’s not the stat-line many would think the enigmatic athlete would have. But as he continues to get acclimated in games, he’s starting to feel more about what he’s supposed to do outside of the X’s and O’s.

“Probably just seeing the game speed now and all that,” Thomas said. “I’m acclimated into it. When I get the ball, I can really just play, instead of doing what the coaches’ (are) telling me. Like, ‘Run here, run there.’ (I can) open up my vision more.”

It’s a pretty heavy load for a true second-year player, as Thomas’ primary position is cornerback, and he’s also the team’s primary kick returner. Now that he’s getting time on offense, it’s a lot to manage.

Yet, Michigan is slowly bringing him along in all phases. His skillset is reminiscent of Jabrill Peppers in many ways, in that he has an insane amount of versatility, and the Wolverines are looking to get him on the field as much as possible.

Is it too much, though? Thomas doesn’t think so.

“It’s a lot, but I’m tough,” Thomas said. “I came here for the challenge. I’m just ready for it. It’s nothing to me. I was built for it, I believe. I’ve just been attacking it every day.”

We’ll see how much that translates to Thomas getting the ball in his hands at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff between Michigan and MSU is slated for noon.

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