Michigan State linebacker Ma'a Gaoteote enters transfer portal

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

The highest-rated player in Michigan State's 2021 recruiting class has entered the transfer portal.

On Tuesday, linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote became the 18th player since the start of the 2021 season to enter the portal and the fifth member of the 2021 class.

A former four-star recruit from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Gaoteote was committed to Southern Cal but flipped to Michigan State on the first day of the early signing period in December 2020.

Gaoteote was rated the 161st player in the country by 247Sports, and figured to make an early impact with the Spartans. His playing time was limited, however, to primarily special teams as he was behind starters Cal Haladay and Quavaris Crouch on the depth chart, as well as veteran backups Noah Harvey, Ben VanSumeren and, for four weeks, Chase Kline, who entered the transfer portal in September.

Gaoteote appeared in eight games, recording seven tackles, a pass breakup and a forced fumble.

Since the season ended, the linebacker room has become more crowded. Crouch, Haladay and VanSumeren will be back, while Harvey could use the extra season of eligibility afforded to players because of COVID-19, which shortened the 2020 season. Michigan State coach Mel Tucker also signed two transfer linebackers — Jacoby Windmon from UNLV and Aaron Brule from Mississippi State — to the 2022 class while also adding incoming freshman Quavian Carter.

In addition to Gaoteote, four other members of the 2021 class have entered the portal, including defensive back Michael Gravely, defensive linemen Alex Okelo and Tyson Watson, and tight end Kameron Allen.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau