Notre Dame hoping mother knows best for CB Ambry Thomas

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Winning over a mother can be a crucial turning point in the recruiting process.

Notre Dame has already crossed that threshold for four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas. Irish defensive line coach Keith Gilmore has recruited Thomas out of Detroit Martin Luther King. Gilmore has already swayed Thomas' mother. Now he needs to sway Thomas.

“We talk a lot, probably like twice or once a week,” Thomas said of GIlmore. “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.”

Thomas visited Notre Dame on Friday before heading to Addison Trail (Ill.) High School on Saturday for The Opening Regional camp. Thomas already received an invite to The Opening Finals after competing in the previous regional camp in Columbus, Ohio, but he attended the suburban Chicago event to support his friends from the Detroit area before making a visit to Wisconsin.

His trip to Notre Dame was the third since the start of the 2015 football season. He previously made trips to South Bend for the season opener against Texas and a junior day in January. The Texas game won over Mom.

“She loved it,” Thomas said. “They treated her like family. It’s been real cool since then.”

On the football field, Irish defensive back coach Todd Lyght has helped the 6-foot, 174-pound Thomas in coverage. He credited advice from Lyght for improving his ability to cover fade routes. His improvement showed in The Opening Regional in Columbus.

Finding a coach who can make Thomas a better player will play a role in his recruitment.

“It’s really important,” Thomas said. “I’m trying to make it to the next level, so if they can take my talents and improve it, that’s real nice.”

Thomas has already established himself as one of the top cornerback recruits in the country. 247Sports slates him as the No. 8 cornerback in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him 16th at the position.

More than 30 colleges have extended scholarship offers to Thomas including Michigan, Michigan State, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Thomas listed Pittsburgh cornerbacks coach Renaldo Hill, West Virginia running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider and Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown among the coaches with which he has the best relationships. But he’s not quite ready to name favorites in his recruitment.

After his most recent visit to Notre Dame, Thomas left with the impression that he’s high on the Irish wish list.

“Coach Gilmore told me (Friday) night, and he told my uncle, that (head coach) Brian Kelly said that if I get my scores and everything right, that I’m the No. 1 priority in the class,” Thomas said. “So that’s real nice. That made me feel special.”

The more he visits Notre Dame, the more likely that feeling lasts.

“Notre Dame is No. 1 in academics and football," Thomas said. "Can’t go wrong with that.”


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas, a 2017 recruit, visited Notre Dame on Friday, May 13, 2016. It was his third trip to campus since the start of the 2015 season. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)