Mark Dantonio has been impressed with the spring Montae Nicholson is having
When asked who has stepped up as a vocal leader with spring practice heading into its fourth week, head coach Mark Dantonio didn’t hesitate to credit sophomore safety Montae Nicholson.
After a solid freshman campaign saw him emerge as one of the top performing defensive specialists, there are high hopes for Nicholson’s future.
Nicholson, who started in last season as a freshman, went above and beyond lofty expectations following the team scrimmage at Spartan Stadium this past weekend, picking off quarterback Conner Cook twice and returning both for touchdowns.
“Montae Nicholson had a big day with the two picks for touchdowns,” Dantonio said in a . “Montae really made two outstanding plays and had impressive runs after the catch. He’s a special player.”
From being considered one of the top recruits from the state of Pennsylvania, to quickly rising to the top ranks of a defensive unit that finished No. 8 in the nation in total defense last year, Nicholson’s attributes in coverage and filling the hole in run defense make him ready to fill the void left by NFL draft hopeful Kurtis Drummond, and continue a tradition of exceptional secondary players for MSU.
What’s the best thing about playing safety for Nicholson? Hitting, which is something that he takes great pleasure in.
He said his love for contact began when he first strapped on the shoulder pads as a kid, when he played linebacker. The 6-foot-2-inch, 216 pounder had experience as an offensive weapon during his high school days, but never felt the same attachment he did to defense.
Recording 31 tackles last season, his increased role on defense has already been cemented before the spring Green and White game kicks off April 25, but garnering some knowledge as a wide receiver in practice could give Nicholson extra playing time as a scoring specialist.
Nicholson admitted it will take time before he can be a reliable threat on both sides of the ball, as former standout Tony Lippett did as a receiver and cornerback. But once he works out the kinks in practice, it’ll come as easy as it did back in high school.
“I (have) to learn and get better at it,” Nicholson said. “There are some little things as a college receiver that I have to work on coming out of my route, what release to take. Once I get better at it, it will feel like high school again.”