Irish Eyeing 2014 Safety

Notre Dame is checking in on 2014 safety Montae Nicholson from Gateway High (Monroeville, Pa.), and he is looking into a fall visit to campus.

Gateway High's 2014 class is loaded with talent, especially in the secondary, and perhaps the top prospect at the Monroeville, Pa., school is 6-foot-2, 200-pound safety Montae Nicholson.

Among his offers are West Virginia, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Michigan, and he is also hearing from several midwest schools, including Notre Dame.

"It's a good school, but I don't know much about them," Nicholson said. "They have a very good program, but that is about it."

Nicholson added he knows the Irish have a strong mix of academics and athletics, but he needs to get to campus to see more. Much of the contact with the Irish has been through the Gateway coaching staff, and Notre Dame is trying to get the talented defensive back to campus for a game in the fall.

"I don't know if I will (be able to make it)," he said. "I would like to but I need to see."

If Nicholson can get to campus, his chances for getting an offer are very good. He already has the aforementioned offers and is also getting interest from Ohio State and Illinois. And the Irish have time to make up ground.

"It's early, so I don't really have any leaders," Nicholson said.

Nicholson's latest offer came from West Virginia days after he attended camp there.

They were telling me they like my size the way I play," he said. "They talked to my coach and he said they offered. I was (there before) but not for football. They showed us around the sports facilities and had a tour for the campers."

Getting to work with the Mountaineer coaches was a positive for Nicholson, who is looking hard at the relationships he is building with the coaching staffs at prospective schools.

"It was great, honestly," he said. "Getting that exposure to the coaches …and the player-coaching relationship is very important. You have to establish that early, and getting the instruction is very good."

An intriguing school for Nicholson is Penn State. He camped there and was impressive with his cover skills and quick break on the ball.

And while the school was hit hard by NCAA sanctions, including a four-year bowl ban and significant scholarship reductions, it won't keep Nicholson from giving the Nittany Lions a hard look.

"Football is important, but academics come first," he said. "They have a great academic program so they're still in there."

Location will be important to Nicholson, although not a deal breaker, and that bodes well for the Nittany Lions and Pittsburgh, which is about 20 minutes from his home.

"I like Pitt. It's my home town," he said. "I've been down the games several times. They're up there as well. I talked to their coaches through my coaches every now and again, and I do like the staff."

Another program hard after Nicholson is Michigan. He impressed early in the camp season and earned an offer from the Wolverines, then returned to campus for the Barbecue at the Big House.

"I like Michigan a lot," Nicholson said. "The coaches are amazing and so are the facilities. It's just a great school."

Getting the see the program during the barbecue gave Nicholson an appreciation for the school.

"I felt very honored and very blessed to get that opportunity to go up there," he said. "We took a tour to get a more in-depth look at the campus. I met the coaches and the players because at the camp we don't really talk that much. It's more action."

One program yet to offer but showing plenty of interest is Ohio State, and Nicholson has a strong connection to the area.

"I was born in Columbus, and I grew up watching them," he said. "They were my favorite team, but I watched a lot of teams."


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