What 4-Star S Montae Nicholson Means for Michigan State

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystDecember 19, 2013


Standout safety Montae Nicholson revealed his collegiate decision Thursday afternoon, announcing Michigan State as his destination for next year. The 4-star Pennsylvania product revealed the Spartans as his selection during a ceremony at Gateway High School (Monroeville, Pa.).

Nicholson, an athletic 6'3", 200-pound playmaker, committed to Michigan State after a lengthy recruiting process that took him to campuses across the country. He spent official visits at Oregon, Virginia Tech, Florida State and Pittsburgh prior to picking East Lansing as his future home.

Nicholson's offer list also included Ohio State, Michigan, Missouri, West Virginia and Penn State. He visited Michigan State twice during the 2013 season, including a trip to see the Spartans beat Michigan in early November.

Pittsburgh seemingly provided the biggest challenge to Michigan State. Monroeville is located approximately 20 miles east of campus and the Panthers hosted Nicholson several times throughout his recruitment process.

However, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Sam Werner reports the Seminoles ultimately finished second in the race for his services.

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio adds a versatile defender to his 2014 recruiting class, which now features 18 commits. Nicholson is the highest-rated player in the group, per 247Sports composite rankings.

He is listed as the nation's No. 13 safety and Pennsylvania's third-best overall prospect in those rankings. Nicholson comes in at No. 193 among nationwide recruits.

Michigan State gains an instant-impact performer who could push for early playing time in an impressive secondary. He registered 28 tackles, two forced fumbles and two interceptions (each returned for a touchdown) as a junior, per 247Sports.

Those numbers drastically improved in 2013.

Nicholson tallied 68 tackles and three interceptions as a senior, according to Scout.com. He also impressed on offense, catching 41 passes for 810 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Aside from elite size at safety, Nicholson provides the Spartans with excellent speed. He's clocked at 4.60 seconds in the 40-yard dash and has proven himself as a special teams threat, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns this season.

Nicholson has the ability to carve out a role on kick coverage as a freshman. That is likely his quickest route to the field in 2014.

Nicholson joins fellow committed prospects Matt Morrissey (Lincolnshire, Ill.), Jalen Watts-Jackson (West Bloomfield, Mich.) and Byron Bullough (Traverse City, Mich.) as players who should end up in Michigan State's defensive backfield upon arrival. He is the latest member of a Spartans recruiting class that currently ranks 35th nationally and fifth in the Big Ten Conference, according to 247Sports.