Ambry Thomas' on-field exploits have garnered him a great deal of recognition over the past year, but being formally selected for the 2017 Army All-American game at his school Thursday may be his most gratifying individual award to date.
"It's wonderful (and) an honor just knowing all the great players that have been playing this game,” Thomas said afterward. “I'm one of those good players now. It feels good."
That his mother Carmen Thomas was able to enjoy the coronation with him made the experience even more special.
"I'm very excited,” said Mrs. Thomas. “I don't know what to say… (I’m) just excited about this whole process, the whole football thing period. I'm excited about everything. I can't wait until he goes off to college. I can't wait until he picks a college first, but I'm excited."
By the time the Army game rolls around her four-star offspring will have settled on a school. However, he hinted after his ceremony that the world may have to wait until then to find out his choice.
Said Ambry, "I'll probably decide at the U.S. Army All-American game."
A decision will come sooner if mom has her way.
“(The recruiting process) is exhausting,” Mrs. Thomas said with a smile. “I'm like you guys (in the media). I'm like, ‘Bry, do we know where we're going yet?’ He says 'no mom, just leave me alone! I'm going to get it.' But I do the same thing (as the media) every day."
“He still doesn't know. People think he's playing like he's holding off. He doesn't know where he's going. He doesn't."
And he’s not currently pressed to figure it out. Thomas’ focus is on leading his 4-0 football team to another state championship. That has caused him to put scheduling official visits on the backburner.
"I've got a busy football game schedule (with) tons of Saturday games,” Ambry said. “I know when the playoffs start all those Saturday games come into play. Some of that (recruiting) stuff is going to be after the season, but I'm going to try to take at least two (official visits during the season)."
At moment the visit dates haven’t been determined, but his five destinations have.
Chief among the factors allowing those schools making the cut are the relationships he has formed with specific staff members for the respective programs.
Who at Michigan State has he established the strongest rapport with?
"I'm vibing the most up there with (Harlon Barnett) and Coach Dantonio. Coach Dantonio… you get that real vibe about him. You can tell what you see is what you get. Ain't no sugar coating it. He's just a real dude."
"You can tell (Barnett) is a player’s coach. Never have I ever heard him cuss at his kids and all of them will say that too. Never."
" It’s Coach (Don) Brown. He's a real exciting coach. That's my type of coach where if you do something wrong he's on you, immediately, cussing you out, just trying to make you a better player."
"I talked to (Jim Harbaugh) last week. He asked me where they were standing, I told him and he said okay good. He's a cool dude."
"Donte Williams. That's my guy, for real. He's just real and he helped me out with a lot of stuff. If he was closer this whole decision would've been over, but he's all the way out there in Arizona. I'm still going to give him a shot though."
"Coach (Torrian Gray). He's just like Coach Donte but... he's got several DB's in the NFL. That's what he's known for. Everybody says he's the best DB coach in college."
"The receiver's coach. They actually offered me as a receiver and said I could play both ways like an Adoree Jackson."
The jockeying for position by those coaches will surely intensify in the coming weeks. Detroit King Tyrone Spencer can see the appeal of each of those programs, but can’t determine if any of them currently has a leg up on the competition.
“Even as his coach you just don't know,” said Spencer. “We'll see, but I like where his head is. He's doing a great job with the recruiting process and I can't wait for him to be successful."
"I think (he’ll go) where he's going to play in early. I think he wants to play early, even if it's just in the rotation. I think (he wants) a coach who can really teach him the position. He's been real analytical on his position and little things like that. He wants to go fit in with a coach that'll do those things for him and make him a better football player."