Michigan Wolverines football's Ambry Thomas was picked in the third round.
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Thomas Intrigued By The Idea Of Learning From Richard Sherman In San Fran

Perhaps no Michigan Wolverines football player in this year’s NFL Draft went higher than expected than cornerback Ambry Thomas. Thought by most to come off the board in the fourth or fifth round (or even later), Thomas heard his name called late in the third, with the San Francisco 49ers choosing him with the 102nd overall pick.

Thomas had an excellent 2019 junior campaign at Michigan and helped anchor a Wolverine secondary that finished 10th nationally against the pass that year, but chose not to play in 2020 after the Big Ten announced its original cancellation of the football season.

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Michigan Wolverines football's Ambry Thomas
Michigan Wolverines football's Ambry Thomas had 3 picks in 2019. (Per Kjeldsen)

Though some of his teammates opted back in once the fall campaign was brought back, Thomas chose to remain out and prepare for the NFL Draft. San Francisco hasn’t exactly been a popular destination for Michigan players in recent years (their roster contains just one former Wolverine, in defensive tackle Mo Hurst), but Thomas nevertheless wasn’t surprised the Scarlet & Gold were the ones who wound up choosing him.

“I had had multiple interactions with them [throughout the draft process],” he revealed to the media after he was picked. “About two weeks ago, I talked to their cornerbacks coach [Cory Undlin] for quite some time.

“We got to know each other and just felt each other out.”

Thomas may potentially be teaming up with another former Jim Harbaugh-coached cornerback in Richard Sherman, who is currently a free agent. Sherman has been with San Francisco since 2018 and may potentially resign with the organization for the 2021 season, though nothing has been decided yet.

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Thomas admitted he hopes the 33-year old former Stanford Cardinal is alongside him in The City by the Bay this fall.

“It would be awesome to learn from him because I’ve heard he’s really smart,” the Detroit native said. “That’s how I play my game — I try to look for tricks within formations and things like that.

“I try to read it like he does. I idolize my thinking from him because of how smart he is on the field. I’d like to get there and learn under him.”

Thomas actually played sparingly on defense during his first two years at Michigan (2017 and 2018), but that didn’t prevent him from developing into a lockdown corner as a junior in 2019.

What allowed him to see the field during his freshman and sophomore seasons, however, was special teams. The 6-0, 182-pounder served as the Wolverines’ primary kick returner each of those two years, averaging 19.8 yards per return in ’17 and 21.7 in ’18.

The highlight of his kick-returning career occurred in the 2018 season opener at Notre Dame, when he ran a kick back 99 yards for a touchdown. A 49ers reporter, however, asked Thomas this weekend if he has any experience returning punts as well.

“I believe I can also return punts, but I never did it in college,” he said. “We had a different starting punt returner [wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones]. He was the punt returner and I was the kick returner, so that’s how it went.”

Notes

• Thomas planned on treating this weekend like a normal weekend and didn’t plan on making too big of a deal about the draft, though he revealed a close family member threw a bit of a wrench into those plans.

“I tried not to make too much of it, because I’m about to get ready and get paid to play football,” he recalled. “I love football, so it’s a dream come true to do something you love as your job.

“I wanted to treat it like a normal day, but my mom made it bigger than it actually was. It was a great experience though.”

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