Nichelson commits to the State of Florida

Blake Nichelson moves from Golden State to Sunshine State.

The four-star Manteca High linebacker announced Tuesday that he has committed to Florida State University. 247Sports’ Brandon Huffman hosted the commitment ceremony remotely as it was streamed live on YouTube.

Florida State commitment Blake Nichelson, second from right, is joined by his brother Wyatt, father Don and mother Nicole after announcing plans to sign with the Atlantic Coast Conference school.
– photo by Wayne Thallander

Nichelson was joined by parents Don and Nicole, brother Wyatt, friends, teammates, coaches and school administrators at the new gymnasium in Manteca. He will make it official during the early signing period from December 21 to 23.

One of the most coveted athletes to ever leave the Manteca area, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Nichelson has held 19 scholarship offers from NCAA Division I programs and cut his top three at Florida State, Oregon and UCLA.

Nichelson is a resident of Ripon but also deeply rooted in Manteca. His mother is an MHS graduate and his uncle Ken Menasco coaches the varsity defensive line. Some of his former Ripon Christian classmates and Ripon Knights youth football teammates were in attendance Tuesday.

After a long and winding recruiting process, Nichelson said he finally locked in his pick on Monday. Only his family and MHS coaches knew of his decision, though it was perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets the Tallahassee Seminoles were favored to land one of the nation’s top prospects. .

“Every time I’m there, I feel like I’m at home,” Nichelson said. He visited FSU twice during the summer. “Great place to be. The fans are crazy there, I really like it. They (reach out) always on social media.

“Even when I was in town, I got recognized by a few people there. It was crazy. I was just a rookie there and I was already recognized. It really shows the love you feel in Tally.

Nichelson also expressed his gratitude for the attention and support he receives from Florida State head coach Mike Norvell and co-defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Randy Shannon.

Shannon attended Manteca’s comeback game two weeks ago when Nichelson compiled 23 carries, 207 yards, six touchdowns, two tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup in the Buffaloes’ 59-22 win over Turlock . He also completed a 48-yard pass on a long third situation.

“Coming from Florida is a little crazy, you know?” said Nichelson. “It takes a lot of time and money, so it really shows how much they wanted me.”

Nichelson noted that it was a difficult decision. A longtime Oregon fan, he made a last-minute, unofficial visit to Eugene last weekend and watched the Ducks’ game against BYU.

“With Oregon, it was really close,” he said. “To be honest, Oregon has had my heart since I was little. It was kind of hard not to go. I was not going to go in. I love the coaching staff, I love the program and I wish them the best.

In the end, it was Florida State that won the Blake Nichelson Contest. He is the 132nd ranked prospect in the nation, by 247Sports, the 11th linebacker in the nation and the 11th overall player in California.

The ‘Noles, currently 3-0, get an all-around athlete who was among California’s most explosive offensive players last year, but named the Valley Oak League’s top defensive player. He set single-season records at Manteca with 1,876 rushing yards and 2,316 total yards from scrimmage, and his 288 points (44 touchdowns, 11 two-point conversions, safety) were the best in the state. On defense, he had 52 tackles, 16 for a loss, 7 ½ sacks and three forced fumbles.

This season, he leads the Buffaloes 4-0 with 472 rushing yards, 164 receiving yards, 14 touchdowns, 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks, four passes defended and one forced fumble.

“He’s a once-in-a-generation athlete,” said Manteca coach Mark Varnum. “The full package – size, strength, speed and explosiveness. And he loves playing football. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do for the rest of the season and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do for Florida State.

Nichelson is looking forward to taking all of his tools to the next level. He started his second year as a potential receiver, but started getting offers as a linebacker. He will play inside linebacker at FSU, although he is currently used as an edge rusher and solid safety for Manteca defensive coordinator Rick James.

“I feel like I can play any position,” he said.

Nichelson added that there is a lot of relief in finally making this life-changing decision.

“Throughout this process, I feel like every offer I’ve received has been a blessing to me,” he said. “It’s just shocking that I got here, just thinking back to when I was a little kid. I never imagined being where I am right now.

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