2021 four-star LB Ma’a Gaoteote enters the transfer portal


MSU linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote in the Spartans’ 48-31 win over Western Kentucky on Oct. 2, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Manit Patel, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich—Michigan State football has lost another player to the transfer portal; this time as freshman Spartan linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote became the 18th Spartan to enter the portal since Sept. 26, 2021.

Gaoteote, a 6-foot-2, 245-pound linebacker from Las Vegas, Nevada, was the highest-ranked recruit in MSU’s 2021 recruiting class, as well as the only four-star recruit.

Gaoteote played high school football at three different schools, spending his freshman and sophomore years at Faith Lutheran (Las Vegas) where he recorded 131 tackles, four sacks, and eight tackles for loss. He then spent his junior year at St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California) where he compiled 61 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and three sacks. Gaotoeote then moved back to Nevada for his senior year at Bishop Gorman, located in Las Vegas, but the team did not play in the fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSU linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote during the Spartans’ 30-27 win over Penn State on Nov. 27, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

He was rated as a four-star recruit by 247Sports within the 2021 recruiting class, as well as the No. 2 overall player in Nevada and the No. 20 overall linebacker in the class. Gaoteote originally committed to USC on Feb. 27, 2018, before decommitting and heading to MSU on Dec. 16, 2020.

In addition to Michigan State and USC, various other Notable Power Five schools including Kansas State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Colorado offered Gaoteote. He is the younger brother of former five-star linebacker and current Ohio State Buckeye Palaie Gaoteote.

He appeared in eight games in 2021-22, recording seven tackles, one forced fumble, and a pass breakup. Gaoteote was going to have to vie with freshman All-American Cal Haladay and transfers Jacoby Windmon and Aaron Brule for consistent playing time next season, as well as Ben VanSumeren.