2014 Prospect Profile: Montae Nicholson

Photo credit: Matt Pargoff (maizeandbluenews.com)

Greg Mattison and his defensive staff have recruited the safety position well since arriving in Ann Arbor. The team needs to add an elite talent to the back end in this class. Could Montae Nicholson be that safety?

247 (four-star, #12 S)
Scout (four-star, #12 S)
Rivals (four-star, #5 S)

Breakdown

Nicholson is a young man of many crafts. He's capable of playing safety, wide receiver and even cornerback. The three major scouting services all agree that he belongs at safety, but he has also played receiver an extensive amount in high school and at recent camps.

Defensively, Nicholson reminds me of Jamar Adams. He's a touch more explosive than Adams, but his 6'3" frame is very similar to that of Adams. His speed is somewhere between good and elite; he's capable of covering the deep middle and has enough speed to stay with most receivers at the college level. He's a bit stiff in the hips and is clearly at his best when he can use his big frame to shield receivers from the ball or bring someone down head on. He reads the quarterback's eyes well and reacts quickly to passes, and his solid ball skills make him a threat to intercept poorly thrown deep balls. Safeties are often solid athletes who tackle well in space and are capable of preventing deep balls, but Nicholson looks like someone who can actually make plays on deep balls. He also loves to bring force when he tackles, but he'll need to work on breaking down and wrapping up in college.

I'm convinced that Nicholson is bound for safety at the next level. Still, he shows above average hands for a receiver and has BCS-level speed as well. He has a knack for making plays on long balls:

He's certainly capable of playing receiver. I think he ends up at safety wherever he goes, simply because it's harder to find safeties of his caliber than it is to find a 6'3" receiver with decent hands and above average speed. His combination of size, straight-line speed and ball skills make him an elite safety prospect.

Recruitment

Montae's offer sheet is impressive and still growing: Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, and Virginia Tech are just some of his offers, with Oregon being the most recent. He has taken unofficial visits to Pittsburgh, Penn State, Ohio State and West Virginia, and coach Hoke visited him at his school back in January. He also attended Michigan's summer camp.

Nicholson named Michigan his leader early in the process. He has been relatively quiet since, but the general feeling is that Michigan still sits at or close to the top for him. Ohio State and Penn State are still involved, and teams like Oregon and Florida State can't be counted out either.

Prognostication

I've felt like Montae would end up in the maize and blue since he camped in Ann Arbor over the summer. Michigan was one of his first offers and the staff has been on him ever since. Mattison and the defensive staff have a soft spot for long players who can run, which makes me believe that he's one of the top safeties on their board. We all know what happens when Greg Mattison wants you to play for him: you become the next Ed Reed.

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