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No. 2 player: Leadership is next step for King's Thomas

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Ambry Thomas

Detroit – Ambry Thomas knows what it feels like to be a state champion. He played a key role for Detroit King last fall when the Crusaders won the Division 2 championship with a dramatic 40-38 comeback win over Lowell at Ford Field.

Now, Thomas, ranked the No. 2 player in the state by The Detroit News, plans on being the best leader he can be to try and get King back to Ford Field.

Thomas is a four-star cornerback, but made it apparent he would be an impact player on offense as well in the season opener last year, hauling in a 50-yard touchdown pass to help King come back from a 10-0 second-half deficit to defeat then-defending Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle, 12-10.

Thomas would do more damage offensively, showing his ability to make the big catch, grabbing a 41-yard TD to pull the Crusaders within 31-26 early in the fourth quarter of the title game.

“It’s all about leadership now because I don’t feel I can get any better than I am,” said the 6-foot, 175-pound Thomas. “It’s all about leadership and hopefully I can lead the team in the right direction.

“It’s important for me to be focused and then everybody else will follow.”

Dale Harvel guided King to a 14-0 record, then suffered a fatal heart attack last month while attending the team’s 7-on-7 competition. Defensive coordinator Tyrone Spencer was elevated to head coach.

“(Harvel’s) last words to me was about how he wanted this season to go,” Thomas said. “He wants us to work hard and play hard. This is still his team. He’s in our heart and he’s going to live through us and we’re just going to ball.

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“We’re looking to repeat, go 14-0. It’s going to be even better this year when we do it because we have a younger team, and with our coach gone everybody thinks we’re going to fall off, but we’re just going to come back and fight harder.”

“Ambry’s a great leader,” Spencer said of Thomas. “He’s fast, explosive and can make things happen on both sides of the ball. He’ll be returning punts and kicks too this year.”

Thomas is pleased he will be adding the title of return man, along with cornerback and receiver. He didn’t need to play that role with the Crusaders last season.

But a ton of talent has moved on to college, including receiver / cornerback Donnie Corley (Michigan State), cornerback Lavert Hill (Michigan), running back Martell Pettaway (West Virginia), quarterback Armani Posey (Bowling Green) and receiver Dontre Boyd (Western Michigan).

“This is my time and I’m looking to do some big things back there,” said Thomas of returning kicks and punts.”

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Thomas is being recruited by nearly all the major powers, owning more than two dozen offers, including Michigan, Michigan State, Florida, Ohio State, Notre Dame, LSU, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Penn State and Pittsburgh.

He said he plans to make his decision following the season.

“Most people don’t know but the majority of my offers is (as an) athlete, like receiver and cornerback,” Thomas said. “I like playing corner right now, but I like playing wide receiver because it’s all natural instinct to me with my speed and my ball skills.”

Thomas participated in The Opening Finals last month in Oregon.

“I loved the experience of competing at The Opening,” Thomas said. “It was a lot of fun. I ran a 4.43 40 there. It was amazing.”

Thomas is looking forward to working with the younger players at King, including 6-0 sophomore Dequan Finn, who has emerged as the starting quarterback.