June 30, 2016
DETROIT, MI — Up until early February this year, Michigan and Michigan State went to war on the recruiting trail to try and get one of the best defensive backs in the state of Michigan and the country. The target that the Wolverines and the Spartans were fighting over was Detroit Martin Luther King cornerback LaVert Hill.
After the Spartans won the battle for King wide receiver Donnie Corley, the Wolverines were able to respond by reeling in Hill.
Now, for the 2017 recruiting class, it looks like it could be déjà vu for Michigan and Michigan State once again as both are actively pursuing another Detroit Martin Luther King cornerback in Ambry Thomas.
So far, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh have seemed to make different but effective impressions on Thomas.
“Harbaugh, see, him and Dantonio are two opposites,” Thomas said. “(Harbaugh) is like hyper energetic and (Dantonio) is laid-back and cool — but I like both of them.”
Thomas said he has been in touch with Corley at Michigan State, calling him his “big brother” while praising the personable coaching staff in East Lansing.
“That’s just family up there, honestly,” Thomas said about Michigan State. “I’m real comfortable up there. I can go up there any time. I don’t even have to tell the coach I’m coming.”
On June 17, Thomas visited Michigan with his cousin, four-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell of Detroit Cass Tech, and he said he was able to meet up with Hill in the process.
“I was on that campus not too long ago, kicking it with Vert,” Thomas said. “Getting a few pointers and just asking what he think about it like, ‘How’s the workouts? How’s the coaches?’ He told me everything is real good right now.”
Thomas added he can “talk about anything” with Michigan’s defensive coordinator Don Brown and linebackers/special teams coach Chris Partridge.
“Harbaugh, he’s real nice,” Thomas said. “That’s my guy. We talk about everything.”
However, on Tuesday, Thomas brought up Arizona first when asked which schools are sticking out for him, citing a strong relationship with the Wildcats’ cornerbacks coach Donté Williams.
“I’m real close with coach Donté from Arizona,” Thomas said. “He’s taught me a lot of stuff. Arizona, obviously, (is high on my list).”
Yet, Michigan and Michigan State will likely remain in strong contention for Thomas up until he makes his commitment.
“I’m still feeling Pittsbugh, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and West Virginia,” Thomas said, adding that he’s taking a closer look at a number of other schools as well.
Thomas is a 5-feet-11.5, 174-pound prospect who is rated a consensus four-star target by 247Sports, Scout, Rivals and ESPN. Holding 40 offers from across the country, Thomas is the No. 2-ranked prospect in Michigan, according to 247Sports. Thomas thinks his skills and his development on the football field has put him right up the best recruits in the country.
“To me, I feel like I’m the best DB in the country,” Thomas said. “Ain’t nobody that compete with me.”
Thomas recently received some validation for his claim — along with a chance to back it up — after being offered to attend Nike’s The Opening Finals in Oregon, held from July 8-10. He will be attending the event with Kelly-Powell.
“He’s the best safety in the country and I’m the best corner in the country,” Thomas added, giving credit to Kelly-Powell who is holding over 40 offers.
Thomas and Kelly-Powell have spoken about attending the same school and, according to Thomas, they are both serious about it.
“That’s a real plan,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to play together. He knows what plays I’ll be on and I know what plays he’ll be on. There’s never no miscommunication.”
However, last year, Corley and Hill had each said that they wanted to attend the same college together but it ended up playing for rival schools.
“If it don’t happen, so be it,” Thomas said.