ADDISON, Ill. - Keith Gilmore is working every angle to convince four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas that Notre Dame is the perfect place to play college football.
Thomas visited again last Friday, making a quick stop on campus as he and some friends traveled to The Opening Regional outside Chicago. Gilmore, defensive line coach and area recruiter for Detroit prospects, met with Thomas and four-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell.
Gilmore has been talking to Thomas multiple times a week as of late. He’s also been connecting with his mother, who visited Notre Dame herself last season for the Texas game.
“We’re real close actually,” Thomas said. “We talk a lot, probably like twice or once a week. He talked to my momma and my momma told him that’s where she wants me to go. She’s favoring Notre Dame, so if he convinces me to go there that’s where I’m at.”
Notre Dame is starting to come at Thomas from multiple angles. Gilmore is in the most consistent contact with defensive backs coach Todd Lyght has been pitching in as well.
Head coach Brian Kelly has made his feelings known about 5-foot-11, 165-pound prospect too.
“They hit me up every day,” Thomas said. “Actually, coach Gilmore told me (Friday) night and he told my uncle that Brian Kelly said that if I get my scores and everything right, I’m the No. 1 priority in the class. That’s real nice. It made me feel special.”
Thomas has been on campus now multiple times. He visited last season then followed it up with a Junior Day trip in January. Along the way he’s been able to watch as Lyght works with the cornerbacks and pick his brain about technique.
Two weeks ago at The Opening Regional in Columbus, Ohio, Thomas applied some of the things Lyght has been talking about. Turns out it worked.
Thomas impressed enough to earn a spot at The Opening Finals in Oregon later this summer.
“He told me a lot actually,” Thomas said. “I told him my weakness and last week at the Nike camp or whatever I actually balled out. Because the fade ball, I’ve been having problems with that. I shut it down all last week.”
Thomas also listed coaches at Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Michigan as among those with which he speaks the most frequently.
Arizona State, Auburn, Iowa, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State and Wisconsin are some other offers on the table. Wisconsin also hosted Thomas and Kelly-Powell last weekend.
“I’m looking at the people in the school when I go there to visit because the coaches aren’t gonna stay there forever,” Thomas said. “Coaches can leave any time. So the people there, I want to know that they’ve got my back like I’ve got theirs. Just the team.”
Right now Thomas doesn’t have any other visits planned. He’s also not sure when the list will start to dwindle. But Thomas does know a little more about the kind of defense he want.
“I want a defensive system that runs a pro-style defense,” he said. “That’s what I’m looking for.”