East Xtra: Speedy Gateway star gaining interest

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Since his team saw its season end in November, Gateway football star Montae Nicholson saw his world change in a big way, particularly in the spring when scholarship offers from NCAA Division I colleges were sometimes coming daily and his track prowess was reaching newfound levels.

But as hectic as the final few months of his junior year of high school were, Nicholson believes it won't touch what is currently and will escalate even more into one crazy summer.

"I thought summer would be easier, but compared to now, the spring was easier," Nicholson said. "Between working camps, working out, still doing summer track, and still taking [unofficial visits], it's gotten even crazier."

Nicholson is the No. 1-ranked senior in Pennsylvania, according to Rivals, which has him pegged as the 13th best safety and the 127th player overall in the class. As of last weekend, his offer list was up to 33 and included the likes of Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan and Oregon.

Nicholson went to a camp at Ohio State the first weekend of June, and a week later traveled to Chicago to participate in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge. The three-day camp took place at Soldier Field and included many of the top players in the classes of 2014 and '15.

Nicholson's roommate at the event was Baldwin's Sterling Jenkins, a junior offensive lineman who already holds major Division I offers.

"It was a blast," Nicholson said. "I had a lot of fun out there. I met a few guys. I talked a lot with Michigan commit Mike Ferns, and it was my first time meeting Sterling Jenkins from Baldwin. I had no idea about him and he ended up being my roommate. He's a great guy."

Early last week, Nicholson moved from player to coach. He was an instructor at Ben Roethlisberger's football camp at Seneca Valley, which was for middle school and elementary school players. A week earlier, Nicholson worked at Mike Tomlin's camp at Brashear for the second year in a row.

Last weekend, Nicholson was at the Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., to compete in The Opening, a four-day camp once again featuring many of the top seniors and juniors in the country. Nicholson was invited to the camp after a strong showing at the Ohio State camp.

Washington's star running back, Shai McKenzie, also participated.

Nicholson said he planned to check out Oregon and Stanford while he was on the West Coast, and also hopes to make a trip to Florida State sometime this summer. That's another school he said because of its location he won't be able to travel to once the school year begins. Pitt is a contender to get Nicholson, and he has visited there several times.

Then there's track. Nicholson is the reigning WPIAL Class AAA 110-meter hurdles champion. He placed second in the PIAA championships. Nicholson wants to run in the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympics late July in Greensboro, N.C.

Nicholson comes across as being very mature and focused, however, a by-product of the direction of a few of the most important people in his life, his mother, Jackie Crawford, and one of his football coaches, Don Smith.

"Definitely my mom and Coach Don [keep me grounded]," Nicholson said. "They don't let stuff go to my head."

Nicholson said he does not have any favorite schools at this time, adding that a final decision likely won't be coming soon.

"I'm looking at [making a decision] toward the end of the season," he said. "I haven't had time to sit down and think, but hopefully I will soon."

That's assuming, of course, that Nicholson's summer ever slows down.



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