Gateway High coach Terry Smith and assistant Don Smith rave about their defensive backfield. One of the names back there is 2014 safety Montae Nicholson (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway), and college programs are starting to see the same things the Gateway staff does.
Nicholson added his fifth offer Tuesday while camping at Michigan as the Wolverines extended him an offer. Bowling Green, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Toledo offered earlier.
The staff and Nicholson did not talk much, but it is clear he will be a priority in the 2014 class for the Wolverines and a lot of programs. And Nicholson is already high on Michigan.
“The facilities, they wowed me,” Nicholson said in a telephone interview following Michigan’s camp. “I went to the Big House – that was amazing. I was walking around campus and took a tour. It’s like a little town. The campus isn’t isolated. They told me about the academic center for student-athletes. Academics are important for me. That’s what I look for in a school. I need strong academics.”
Though the Buckeyes have not offered, Ohio State is already impressing the 6-2, 195-pound rising junior, too. Nicholson camped at Ohio State earlier this month.
“The facilities are just like Michigan and the academics as well,” he said. “My mom stresses academics to me, and I stress academics as well. I believe you can’t go anywhere without an education. Football is Plan B for me. I like football but I need my education.”
Nicholson is also very familiar with the two in-state BCS programs, Penn State and Pitt. Nicholson was at Penn State recently.
“Everything is structured and disciplined. Discipline is important. It’s very structured,” he said. “They seem like they were paying attention to every detail. Everything was very particular.”
Pitt has not hosted Nicholson on a visit this summer yet, but his uncle used to work at the university and his mother used to work in the area. So there is not much Nicholson hasn't already seen about the program aside from building a relationship with the new coaching staff.
No programs are atop Nicholson’s leaderboard, but he does root for one of those teams.
“I’m keeping an opening mind and looking for the right school,” Nicholson said, “but I was born in Columbus. I kind of grew up rooting for Ohio State. I was only there until I was 2, but I still like the Buckeyes.”