With the recruiting process continuously speeding up, Montae Nicholson has managed to go at his own pace. The four-star defensive back from Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway is one of the nation's most sought after players, and he has decided to start narrowing his list.
"It was a combination of things," said the 6-foot-2, 202-pound Nicholson. "These are the places that I feel like I could fit in best. Pretty much all of theses schools have the same things in common. That's why I like them. I feel like if I buy into what they coaches are telling me, wherever I go I will be able to succeed."
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In alphabetical order, Nicholson's top schools are Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Temple, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. The nation's No. 127 player explained why each is still being considered.
Florida State: "Coach Sunseri is a great guy," he said. "He reminds me of my coach. It helps that [fellow Pittsburgh-area prospect] J.J. Cosentino is committed there. He talks about them a lot and he seems to have bought into their program."
Georgia Tech: "The program that they have is outstanding," said Nicholson. "The academics are pretty much second to none. I've gotten to know the staff pretty well. It's not just one or two coaches, it's the entire staff."
Miami: "I feel like every time I get on Facebook there is at least two coaches from Miami talking to me," he said. "That's very important to me because it shows me how important I am to them."
Michigan: "The academics are great up there," Nicholson said. "I've built really good relationships pretty much the entire staff up there."
Michigan State: "I talk to Coach Salem and Coach Warner a lot on Facebook and Twitter," he said. "They seem like they have a lot to offer. I talked to Delton Williams and he was telling me about the program and how great it is."
Oregon: "What really sold Oregon was being out there for the Opening," said Nicholson. "The environment was ridiculous. I imagine that Oregon's facilities are great but I didn't have time to check out the campus. Coach Lubick and Coach Frost are great guys. Even though Chip Kelly is gone the program is still there and is going in the same direction. Pretty all of the coaches are the same expect for him."
Penn State: "The atmosphere is ridiculous," he said. "I went up there when the students were on a break and the stadium was still packed. The academics are great as well."
Pittsburgh: "The staff is amazing and even though Coach Chryst is new, the program he is starting reminds me of my school," Nicholson said. "I'm sure I'll be back up there soon."
Stanford: "I talk to Coach Shaw and a few other coaches there," he said. "They have the best the best of both worlds. Great football and academics that are top-notch."
Temple: "The staff is really what sold me," said Nicholson. "It's not just about Coach Terry. The rest of the staff is amazing. They really get to know their players."
Virginia Tech: "Coach Gray calls it 'DBU.' I have a good relationship with him," he said. "I've driven past the campus and I didn't stop because they hadn't offered me at the time."
West Virginia: "Coach Gibson and I talk a lot," Nicholson said. "I've been down there multiple times. I have some family down there. I feel like I still need to learn a little bit more about them."
Nicholson has close relationships with people and players at many of the schools on this list.
"I plan on going to wherever is the best fit for me, not because of who else is going there," he said.
Despite plenty of outside pressure, Nicholson is still going to go at his own pace.
"I'll probably visit most of these schools, probably Florida State, Miami and the closer ones," he said. "We're still trying to plan these.
"As soon as I take these unofficials, I'll make some more cuts," Nicholson said. "I'll probably make my decision after the season after I take my officials."
Nicholson competed in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour in early June.
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