Michigan State Football: 5 players poised for a career year

6 of 6

Sep 20, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans defensive back Montae Nicholson (9) picks up a loose ball during the second quarter against the Eastern Michigan Eagles at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

This one shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Montae Nicholson is one of the most prized defensive prospects in the Dantonio era and one that has people close to the program giddy with excitement over. Nicholson, heading into his sophomore season, is looking to be the starting strong safety for Michigan State and has been very impressive all spring long.

In fact, he was the top defensive player for the Spartan in spring scrimmages, picking off a number of Connor Cook passes and even returning one for a touchdown.

Nicholson has been looked at as an All-Big Ten type of player and earned from All-Freshmen honors from ESPN and the Big Ten Network last year after leading Spartan first-year players in tackles with 31.

Montae came out of high school as one of the nation’s top defensive backs and has already proven it at Michigan State, making a big-time impression on the coaching staff. It’s very rare to see a true freshman earn valuable playing time under Dantonio, but Nicholson played in all 13 games last season, even starting in three of them.

Putting on some muscle weight this offseason, or so it looked at the Green-White Game on April 25, Nicholson looks to be a hard-hitting safety that the Spartans love and he still has the speed and athleticism to keep up with the nation’s elite receivers.

The ‘No Fly Zone’ will keep its name in 2015 thanks to the strong play of new cornerbacks and Nicholson who will finish the year with 67 tackles and three interceptions, one for a touchdown.

More from Spartan Avenue