Michigan State football flips 4-star linebacker Ma'a Gaoteote from USC commitment

By Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Michigan State completed an early signing period flip of linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote out of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, earning his commitment and receiving his national letter of intent on Wednesday.

Gaoteote, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound four-star (per the 247Sports composite), had been committed to USC since February 2018. That was after the Trojans offered him in the fall of his junior year.

Ma’a Gaoteote

He has not visited Michigan State, but took virtual visits as well as stayed in contact with the staff via Zoom and phone.

After beginning his career at Las Vegas Faith Lutheran, Gaoteote played at Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco as a junior, recording 64 tackles (eight for loss) and three sacks for a state title winning team. The Spartans, Colorado, Washington, Utah and more offered him after he came to Bosco.

"I feel like playing at that level, as I look back on it, it made me better as a player. It wasn't just playing in the hardest high school league in America, but every week you had a big-name team that's out of league and stuff," he said. "I think I was good enough that I could play on a national stage and that kind of stage in general. Where I'm from the football is smaller compared to Bosco, so I felt that I could go out there and prove it. In the end I showed it."

“He made big strides over the course of his junior season,” 247Sports’ Greg Biggins said. “He is a naturally physical player who can fill a gap and is a punishing hitter. He shows the athleticism to make plays from sideline to sideline and has improved as a pass rusher off the edge as well. Once he hits you, the play is over, and he has improved athletically and playing in space.”

Subscription: Mel Tucker shapes his first Michigan State recruiting class, and tries to keep it intact

Linebacker was a big need area in this class for Michigan State. They signed Gaoteote and Carson Casteel out of Florence (Ala.) at that position.

Gaoteote’s brother Palaie is in the transfer portal after beginning his career at USC. Michigan State is believed to be involved with him, but that has not been confirmed.

The Spartans have two Gorman grads on their roster, wide receiver Jalen Nailor and offensive lineman Jacob Isaia, who both played with Palaie in high school.

Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.