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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Nicholson bolsters strong Spartans defense

By Jared Shanker

Few prospects did a better job of keeping their recruitment under wraps than Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway). While the ESPN 300 athlete granted interviews, his comments were always guarded and never alluded to one school being ahead of the others.

The answer finally came Thursday, when the four-star Nicholson, No. 249 in the ESPN 300, committed to Michigan State at a ceremony at his high school. Florida State, Oregon, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech were his other finalists.

The Spartans received Nicholson's first official visit in September, but then not much was spoken of Michigan State. It was not until the days leading up to Nicholson's announcement that the Spartans once again were considered a possible landing spot for the 6-foot-2, 210-pound athlete.

The commitment should not come as too much of a surprise, as Michigan State has extended its recruiting radius to Western Pennsylvania the last few years. Four-star Dede Cox from Jeannette signed in 2012 and four-star recruits Damion Terry and Delton Williams of Erie Cathedral Prep signed with the Spartans in February. Nicholson is ranked No. 4 in Pennsylvania in the 2014 class.

Most likely destined for the defensive backfield in college, Nicholson is another significant addition to one of the country's premier secondaries. Few programs had success moving the ball on the Spartans on the ground or through the air, and Nicholson is a rangy playmaker who could make it very difficult on quarterbacks in the middle and deep parts of the field.

Fellow ESPN 300 defensive back Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) has Michigan State as a finalist, as well, so the Spartans could have one of the country's best secondaries for the next several years.

Nicholson is the second ESPN 300 commitment for Michigan State and the fifth rated as a four-star prospect. The Spartans' class of 18 commits is not ranked nationally.