December 20, 2013 at 1:00 am

Allen Trieu

Four-star Montae Nicholson an early Christmas present for Michigan State

Montae Nicholson is rated a four-star safety but could play receiver for Michigan State. (Scott Reed SWOF / Scout.com)

Monroeville (Pa.) Gateway senior Montae Nicholson surprised some by selecting Michigan State on Thursday at a ceremony at his school. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Nicholson is rated a four-star safety by Scout.com but says the possibility remains that he could play wide receiver for the Spartans.

He chose MSU over offers from Pittsburgh, Oregon, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Throughout his recruitment, several schools other than the Green and White appeared to have a lead, but in the days leading up to his announcement, it became more clear the Spartans had made up ground. Ultimately, he says he kept thinking back to his September visit, when he saw the team defeat South Florida and how much that official impacted him.

“It was more than I expected,” he said. “I had so much fun out there, and I learned so much.”

Brian Dohn, an East Coast recruiting analyst for Scout, believes Nicholson has the physical tools to make an impact at the next level.

“Nicholson is athletic and long,” he said, “and he can cover sideline to sideline and has good ball skills. At The Opening over the summer, he showed good cover skills and the ability to break on the ball, and his ability to close is a big asset.”

Nicholson also said his other finalist was Florida State and that the Spartans’ Rose Bowl bid was a nice bonus, but not a deciding factor.

He is ranked as the No. 21 safety in the country and the No. 4 player overall in Pennsylvania by Scout.

Spartans gain OL, lose QB

St. Clair Shores South Lake junior Kyonta Stallworth recently made his commitment to Michigan State official and public. Long considered to be essentially part of the 2015 class for the Spartans already, the 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman called the staff the night of their Big Ten championship win to cement his intentions to play for them. Recruited as an offensive lineman, Stallworh had six sacks this season on defense and said he would be willing to play there if needed. He had additional offers from Florida, UCLA and Tennessee.

Youngstown (Ohio) Ursuline quarterback Chris Durkin, committed to Michigan State since last spring, called head coach Mark Dantonio and decommitted, switching to Virginia Tech. His father cited early playing time as one of the reasons and Durkin said he had nothing but positive things to say about MSU and the Spartan staff, but added it was a “business decision.”

Speculation ensued that the Spartans may offer another quarterback in the class, but that has not happened yet. Sources have told Scout that the Spartans taking another scholarship quarterback in this class is not a certainty.

More information

Montae Nicholson profile

Kyonta Stallworth profile

Chris Durkin profile

Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan State recruiting column appears every Friday at detroitnews.com. For more on MSU recruiting, visit michiganstate.scout.com.