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MSU football flips USC commit, 4-star linebacker Ma'a Gaoteote signs with Spartans

December 16, 2020
<p>Members of Spartan athletics watch the team warm up before a football game against Indiana University at Spartan Stadium on Nov. 14, 2020.</p>

Members of Spartan athletics watch the team warm up before a football game against Indiana University at Spartan Stadium on Nov. 14, 2020.

Photo by Alyte Katilius | The State News

MSU football just signed it's highest-rated recruit in the 2021 class.

It's only the first day of the early signing period for recruits, and all signs point to MSU not being done yet either.

Ma'a Gaoteote, the No. 11 nationally ranked outside linebacker in the class of 2021 had been verbally committed to the University of Southern California since 2018. On Wednesday morning, soon after Mel Tucker discussed the early signees for the class, the Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) recruit announced his commitment via Twitter.

Per the Twitter post announcing his commitment, it was evident that Gaoteote has signed his national letter of intent, but Tucker and the MSU football staff got a big-time recruit to flip from national power USC.

The four-star is the No. 155 recruit nationally, according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

"I chose Michigan State because of the love they showed me and I wanted to be a part of that Spartan Dawg defense," Gaoteote said in a statement from MSU Athletics.

Gaoteote, at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds is a Hawaii native and played at St. John Bosco in California before heading to Bishop Gorman, in Las Vegas.

Gaoteote' brother, Palalie was at USC for three seasons before deciding to enter the transfer portal this past season. He appeared in 17 games for the Trojans and amassed 105 total tackles and only two sacks over that time. Palalie was a five-star linebacker in the class of 2018 and was the No. 1 inside linebacker in the nation back in 2018 when he signed with USC, according to 247Sports.

The elder Gaoteote was a teammate of Jalen Nailor's at Bishop Gorman, which could mean something as he searches for a home out of the transfer portal.

"Ma'a has really good size, build band; he's very instinctive and tough," head coach Mel Tucker said in a statement. "He is the QB of the defense and he plays with good balance and body control. He's got a good burst to close and he can anticipate, key in on and diagnose the play. He is constantly one step ahead of the play."

Ma'a is the second linebacker, a position of need going forward for MSU, in the class of 2021, the other being Carson Casteel out of Florida. His junior season with St. John Bosco in California, the senior had 61 tackles. He is the nephew of Ma’a Tanuvasa, the former Hawaii defensive end who won two Super Bowl championships with the Denver Broncos before playing for the San Diego Chargers and Atlanta Falcons.

Michigan State has numerous early signees as the early signing period, which began the morning of Dec. 16 goes until Friday, Dec. 18 before National Signing Day opens back in February.

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