From U-M: How Ambry Thomas Came Up Big in the Opener After Battling Colitis

By Steve Kornacki / U-M

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ambry Thomas has a tattoo on the outside of his right bicep that played into his desire to play in the University of Michigan’s season-opening game.

Inked onto the arm of junior cornerback are these words in cursive flowing from a pocket watch:

“Time Waits For No Man.”

Thomas made a pivotal interception, recovered a big fumble and quickly snuffed out another drive with a tackle for a three-yard loss on first down. And he did all of that on three successive Middle Tennessee State drives in the second quarter of Saturday night’s (Aug. 31) 40-21 win.

Not bad for a guy who was suffering with colitis — a digestive disease that causes abdominal pain — during most of preseason training camp and didn’t return fully to practice until game week.

There’s a cliché used in sports whenever an athlete can’t play: “Next man up.” However, Thomas said he didn’t want to relinquish the job he’d waited for behind David Long, now in the NFL with the Los Angeles Rams, with his illness.

He was determined to play.

“That is something I set myself to do — get on that field and play,” said Thomas. “What I went through and no matter what you go through, it’s what you’ve got to do. It all ties into my trust in God to keep persevering.”