Boubacar Cissoko, Dior Mathis, Delonte Hollowell, Terry Richardson, Dionte Allen, Cedric Everson committed to Iowa but never made it to campus. I'm certain I'm forgetting others. Then of course, the bumper crop that is out there now with Desmond King, Jourdan Lewis and Dejuan Rogers all about to be drafted. There is a young crew coming up too with Damon Webb (now at safety) and Lavert Hill.
To say Thomas has the highest ceiling, coming out of high school, of that whole group, is not a stretch.
"I’ve watched a number of big time defensive back prospects come out of Detroit over the past 15 years, and Ambry Thomas has the talent and heart to be the best of them all," said The Michigan Insider's Sam Webb. "I think he is a taller, faster version of Jourdan Lewis. He is an excellent bump and run defender. He has great feet, loose hips, recovery speed, and tremendous ball skills. Lewis was better technically at the same stage of development, but Thomas is more physical. Jourdan grew into being physical and is now one of the best tackling corners in the country.
"I think Ambry can make the same leap with his technique. Once he does that I think you’ll see him start impacting the game on offense. He told me his wants to immerse himself in the defense for a season or two before trying his hand at receiver. When he is ready Michigan will definitely give the opportunity because he has shown himself to be a big play threat every time he touches the ball. He did that year in and year out at King, and he proved he could do it against the best players in the country at Nike’s The Opening last summer. Thomas was pressed into duty at wide receiver due to injuries at the position, and on the last day of competition, the two-way star became an integral part of his team’s attack. For a three-game stretch, Thomas put on a show that was unquestionably one of the best runs in the short history of the event. His performance was highlighted by four touchdown receptions, all from fifty yards out."
I agree with Sam that Thomas has a better physical skill set than Lewis at the same age. He is bigger and faster. Lewis has elite instincts, ball skills and technique. I think Thomas, having seen him play offense, has comparable ball skills. At the same age, he does not yet have Lewis' technique, but that can come in time once he gets to college.
It is not out of the question that he will return kicks or see some offensive time at the next level. He is that good of an athlete.
That, and his high school coach Ty Spence says he is one of the most competitive kids he has ever coached.
"This kid has the kind of mentality that infectious to a defense and team," Webb added. "Simply put, he is never scared on a football field. ANY football field. His game travels. He will play the same way in Columbus that he does in Ann Arbor. We call that “DOG” where I come from. Thomas is a DOG and isn’t bashful about letting his competition know it. When his career is over and we look back on this class, it will be a major surprise if he isn’t looked upon as one of the top performers in it."
The only kid Spence says was more competitive was Donnie Corley, who had a great freshman season at Michigan State.
At this point, when you consider that Thomas is also enrolling early and will be there in the spring, it is very possible he will line up across from Corley when the Spartans meet the Wolverines next year. He is talented enough to be on the field as a true freshman.
Keys for him are picking up schemes and technique and adding a little bit of weight to his 175-pound frame.
There is no question, though, that Michigan is getting a heck of a talent here and a kid with the drive to make good on that talent.