Speedy Nicholson Taking it Slow

WPIAL football and track star is in no hurry to make a college decision. Where does Penn State stand in the recruiting battles for his services?

Montae Nicholson's sharp focus on track season hasn't narrowed the attention he is paying to his football recruitment.

Nicholson qualified for the 100-meter hurdles and long jump, and is also a member of the 400-meter relay team that qualified for the WPIAL Individual Track and Field Championships Thursday. While his blazing speed on the track means his recruitment has slowed, it's not a bad thing to the Gateway (Monroeville, Pa.) junior safety.

In fact, the speed on the track transfers over to the football field, which is one of the reasons he believes that Penn State, along with 25 other Division I programs, have already extended him a verbal scholarship offer.

“Coaches say my speed is my best asset, and the way I open up a gap,” Nicholson explained. “Once I do that, it's pretty much a wrap. When I get out in space, I feel like I have good range covering.”

Nicholson last visited University Park for State's Junior Day in February, and the 6-foot-3, 200-pound prospect has since kept in steady contact with his recruiting coach, Lions running back coach Charles London, as well as defensive coordinator John Butler.

State remains in heavy contention for the FOX Sports NEXT four-star prospect, but he has yet to cut down his offer list. That may come in the summer, once potential trips to Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and others are made.

“Their academics are ridiculous,” Nicholson said of Penn State. “That is important, and with everything there, I was very impressed with that. It wasn't only that, though.

“The weight room — that's exciting, and the coaches are very genuine.”

With a plan to pursue either civil or mechanical engineering in college, Nicholson has taken an acute interest in the engineering program offered by each school he examines. He also looks deeply at its coaching staff, another key element that will help lead him to his college home.

When it comes to Penn State, “genuine” was the word he repeatedly used to describe head coach Bill O'Brien and his staff. With that honesty, though, comes the hard fact that, with NCAA sanctions limiting PSU to just 15 scholarship players in the Class of 2014, there is a limit to how long the program can wait for his decision.

“They have said to me that they can't wait very long, and I understand that,” he explained. “I would like to keep them as an option. … But if I'm taking too long, it would be a shame because, honestly, I do like Penn State a lot, and everything I saw up there [has] to do with what I [want] to do.”

Also being recruited some as a receiver, Nicholson said he will soon sit down with his mother, Jackie Crawford, and plan his summer itinerary. He went on to add that his mother plays a big role in his recruitment, and helps him navigate the process.

Nicholson would like to make his decision during the high school season after taking a string of official visits, but he's not necessarily opposed to changing that schedule if the best fit becomes evident beforehand.

“I'll probably take an official every couple of weeks, and get those out of the way and see the schools that I'd like to see,” Nicholson explained. “Academics is very [important], and actually, it's one of my top things if not the top thing.

“Football won't last forever. After football, I'm going to need to get a job. And in order to get a job, academics play a key role.”

Fight On State Top Stories