Due to all the uncertainty surrounding this past season, Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas elected to opt out and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft. It was a tough decision for the All-Big Ten honoree, but it doesn't seem like he has any regrets.
Thomas started all 13 games during his junior season, finishing with 38 tackles, seven pass breakups and three interceptions. His production in 2019 placed him on several NFL scouts' radar.
Just to put into perspective how important Thomas was to Michigan's secondary, that unit experienced a serious decline in production without him in the lineup this season. It was such a down year for the Wolverines that defensive coordinator Don Brown was let go.
We sat down with Thomas to discuss his NFL Draft decision, the latest extension for Jim Harbaugh, his thoughts on the Wolverines letting go of Don Brown, and much more. Let's get this interview started.
The Spun: You decided to opt out of the 2020 season due to the uncertainty surrounding the Big Ten. Looking back at that decision, do you feel like it was still the right move?
Ambry Thomas: I still wish I could’ve played, but regardless of what I felt I know I made the right decision.
The Spun: This was obviously a tough year for Michigan. Do you think it was just an off year for the program, or was the talent not there?
AT: I think it initially comes down to leadership leaving, a whole bunch of new guys coming and not knowing the role of the Michigan Wolverines, and a lot of guys got relaxed I felt like. I also think the whole COVID-19 situation threw everyone’s mindset off.
The Spun: What was it like preparing for the NFL Draft while watching the Wolverines from a distance?
AT: This whole time I’ve been working out and training for the NFL. Once the season got canceled the first time, I made the decision to start my preparation for the draft.
The Spun: There were a lot of rumors swirling about Jim Harbaugh this offseason. He signed an extension with Michigan. For those saying he’s not the right man for Michigan, what would you tell them?
AT: Everything takes times, you know what I mean? Coach was still learning - he was adjusting from the NFL back to college. It’s a whole different ballgame - you’re trying to create young men. In the NFL, those guys are getting paid to play football. These kids coming from high school making that transition to college have to deal with the mental aspect, the time-management aspect, and other roles that play a part in it. I think it’s going to take time, but I do believe he [Harbaugh] will get it going.
The Spun: Don Brown was let go as the defensive coordinator back in December. What were your thoughts on Brown and how he coached up the defense during your time there?
AT: Can I be totally real with you? I do think it was unfair to get rid of him. This year the team had to deal with COVID-19. If our full team was there - we had a pretty good defense prior to the pandemic. You had me and Nico [Collins] opt out, Kwity [Paye] missed games, and Aidan [Hutchinson] got hurt. Key pieces to the defense were missing, so I don’t think it was right to get rid of him. I love Coach Brown.Honestly, I feel like everyone in that building should’ve got another year just because of the circumstances.
The Spun: Looking back at your career. What would’ve been sweeter: winning a national championship or blowing out Ohio State?
AT: Man, that’s a hard question. I would rather blow out Ohio State because those guys think they’re good - and honestly I don’t think they’re that good.
The Spun: Did you get any personal enjoyment out of watching Ohio State lose in the national title game?
AT: I’m not going to say it felt good because it didn’t. I don’t like watching football, I rather be playing. We played against Alabama last year during a bowl game, and their receiving corps was way better last year - this year they just had DeVonta Smith. Up until the third quarter, it was a good game. If we had more offense, we would’ve been fine. Kudos to those guys [Ohio State] for getting to the national championship, but I’m happy Alabama won. Put it like that.
The Spun: Who was the best WR you faced during your time at Michigan?
AT:No receiver really gave me problems to the point where I was like ‘Damn, I need to lock in.’ The Alabama receivers I studied more than any other receiver. The hardest receiver though, I’d probably say Chase Claypool. He wasn’t even hard to guard, but he was battling it and making contested catches. It was just good football and some good footwork.
The Spun: I saw you accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl. What are you looking to show there?
AT: That I can play man coverage, I’m coachable, and I’m still here. I didn’t go nowhere. I still consider myself one of the top cornerbacks in this draft class and I know if I played this year I would’ve been within the top three cornerbacks in this draft class.
The Spun: Is there a draft goal you’re trying to achieve, like going in the first or second round?
AT: I’m going to left the chips fall where they may, but I believe I have first-round talent written all over me. That’s for the teams to decide, but I know what I bring to the table and what I’m capable of.
The Spun: You get to intercept one NFL QB, who are you picking?
AT: I got to go Tom Brady even though he’s a ‘Go Blue’ guy because he’s a legend.
Thomas didn't get to showcase his skillset this past season, but he certainly has the confidence needed at his position to have success in the NFL.
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