Montae Nicholson to Michigan State: Spartans Land 4-Star Safety Prospect

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2013

Jul 3, 2013; Beaverton, OR, USA; Montae Nicholson (7) closes in on wide receiver Ermon Lane (11) during the Nike 7on7 elimination play at Nike World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive back Montae Nicholson has decided to play college football at Michigan State. He chose the Spartans after drawing interest from nearly 30 programs during the recruiting process.

Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review passed along his choice:

Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette adds that Nicholson said he will also run track for the Spartans:

Nicholson, who has excelled as a safety while also playing cornerback and wide receiver, is a 4-star prospect, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's rated inside the top 200 nationally as well as the No. 13 safety in the 2014 class.

Werner shared this information on Nicholson's decision:

Meanwhile, Paul Konyndyk of offered his thoughts on this huge commitment:

At 6'3'' and 200 pounds, Nicholson has prototypical size for a safety. He combines that with an advanced ability to read the play and good vision, two key traits for defensive backs in an era where defending the pass is usually the top priority.  

He isn't a burner—247Sports lists his 40 time at 4.60 seconds—but has enough speed to develop into a very effective college safety. He would have a much tougher time at corner, where he'd be expected to go stride for stride with athletic wideouts.

The Gateway High School (Pa.) product also features above-average playmaking ability and is a solid tackler. But the latter is an area in which he'll need to improve to live up to the 4-star billing at the collegiate level.

Given his high upside and versatility, it's no surprise a total of 29 programs showed interest, according to 247Sports. And his decision remained a question mark right up until the announcement.

While he's been rated as a safety, Chris Dokish of Panthers Prey states a lot of scouts who have watched him play on both sides of the ball believe he'd be a better receiver:

At the very least, he has options. If things don't work out as expected as a defensive back, he's already shown the ability and has enough experience to make the switch to receiver without an extended transition period.

All told, Nicholson has shown enough playmaking ability to remain bullish about his chances of success regardless of which position he ends up playing. Coaches love players who have the athletic ability to fill different roles, and Nicholson certainly fits the bill.  

Odds are he'll find a way to make an impact one way or another pretty quickly at the next level.