Beaverton, Ore. -- When Nike selected Detroit King standout Ambry Thomas for 2016’s edition of The Opening, they listed him as a cornerback.
“Athlete” or “Football Player” would have been much more fitting. That’s certainly what he showed himself to be when flipped over to wide receiver to fill in for injured pass-catchers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins. The result was a big play barrage that established Thomas as one of the The Opening’s top performers.
“Actually once we first got here I told them,” Thomas said recalling his insistence to his coaches that he could also play receiver. “I could tell our offense wasn’t rolling the way I wanted it to roll. I’m like, ‘we need that electrifying receiver out there.’ I told the coach, ‘put me on offense.’ He was blowing me off at first. Then they really needed me. Then I got out there and balled."
Indeed he did.
Four touchdowns in three games, each from around 50 yards out to help propel Team Hypercool to the semis. Seemingly in a blink of an eye he had shown himself to be a playmaker whenever and wherever he steps on the field. That’s why he was a little disappointed when he wasn’t targeted as much in his squad’s loss in the semifinal round.
“I felt real neglected that last game,” said Thomas. “Just to know that these DBs couldn’t check me… I was just blowing past them. But it was (alright).”
The colleges recruiting the Motor City star fully understand his ability the play dual roles. The question isn’t if he’ll play both ways for the school he ultimately chooses, it’s when.
“Actually most schools are recruiting me as an athlete,” he said. “Most people don’t know that. I’m an athlete.”
“I want to focus on DB probably for the first two years, then once I’ve got that locked down I’m going to focus on receiver.”
One of the key factors Thomas plans to assess when comparing his suitors is cornerback depth. One school with a favorable scenario on that front is currently surging on his list.
“Florida is sneaking (toward) the peak for sure,” said Thomas. “They’ve got five DBs leaving and they’re going to need someone to come in and play early, so they’re near the top. I don’t want to say at the top, but they’re near it for sure.”
“The coaching staff they text me all day every day. They hit me up and make me feel wanted. That’s real nice.”
As was mentioned, there are a number of schools jockeying with the Gators for position at the top. Some have definitely moved higher than others, but Thomas’ current hierarchy a tightly held secret.
“(The schools at the top with Florida are) Pittsburgh, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Arizona. “
“I’ve got it narrowed down in my head. I just ain’t making it public.”
Fortunately, coaches and fans won’t have to wait long to hear how it will all play out.
“I’m going to try to early enroll so (a decision will come) probably in October or November.”