Montae Nicholson reflects back on time at MSU during Washington's training camp
On April 29, Montae Nicholson’s football dreams came true as the former MSU safety was selected by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round as the 123rd overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Nicholson, who forwent his senior season at MSU to declare for the draft, is now almost completely rehabilitated from an offseason shoulder surgery. As Washington opens up training camp, Nicholson is looking to be an instrumental player on a team that is coming off an 8-7-1 record last season.
“I feel great,” Nicholson said after the Redskins’ morning walkthrough Monday. “My trainers are holding me back a little bit from contact in particular. Everything else, as long as there is no contact, I’m in there. They’re giving me no contact a couple more weeks … After that, I’m a full go. But right now, I feel great. I’m doing well in my recovery process and therapy and everything. I’m looking forward to getting back out there.”
A three-year letterwinner in East Lansing, Nicholson registered 200 tackles, four interceptions, four pass break-ups, 4.5 tackles for loss, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble for the Spartans in 38 career games.
The Monroeville, Pennsylvania native said he does not regret his decision.
“It was a long process,” he said. “It took me a long time to decide. I had to do what was best for me. I think I did that. It was tough. I love Michigan State. I love everything about that program, Coach (Dantonio), Coach (Harlon) Barnett, my teammates — I talk to them on a regular basis — but at the end of the day, I got to do what is best for me. I really think I did that and Coach (Dantonio), Coach (Barnett) they were behind me 100 percent. I really love them and appreciate them for that. I’m here now, so I have to make the best of it.”
After his shoulder surgery, the 6-foot-2, 216 pound safety said he feels confident of his transition from the collegiate level to the NFL.
“Well, definitely, even in college, the biggest thing was actually taking care of my body because the shoulder injury definitely taught me to take care of my body first,” Nicholson said. “I think I’m transitioning well. The guys here are great in accepting me and coaches as well — taking me along and helping me learn defense and everything like that. And coming from a completely different defense back at Michigan State, they’ve been patient with me. Not too patient because it’s the NFL, but patient enough to where I’m picking it up quickly and learning and going from there.”
Despite being introduced to a new defensive scheme, the more experienced defensive backs have been accommodating in feeding Nicholson advice on how to better himself in his craft.
“Not only about learning defense, but giving me tips from experiences they had, whether it’s I’m in the middle of the field (and I should) backpedal and not weave because (the NFL has) great quarterbacks — Eli (Manning), Dak (Prescott) — stuff like that,” Nicholson said. “You want that slight step. That could be the difference from a caught ball, a pass breakup or an interception. Just the little things like that they’ve been helping me with.”
Nicholson avoided being listed on the team’s physically unable to perform list to begin training camp, which would have restricted his involvement with the team even if he was 100 percent-recovered from his shoulder surgery.
Now, the former Spartan said he looks forward to the beginning of his professional career.
“I’m a big team guy, so anyway I can help impact the team in a positive way, that’s what I’m going to do, whether it’s special teams, whether it’s starting, whether it’s coming in and playing on third downs — anything like that,” Nicholson said. “Yeah, I’m here to play safety, but I’m also here to win a Super Bowl just like the rest of the guys on the team and that’s the common goal we all have, and like myself and the rest of the guys, we’re all just willing to do anything to get there.”