MSU flips four-star LB Ma’a Gaoteote from USC


Mel Tucker watching over practice/Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Zach Surdenik, General Assigment Reporter

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State recruiting class of 2021 just signed their first four-star recruit in linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote from Las Vegas, Nevada. Gaoteote was initially committed to play at USC but flipped and signed with MSU on signing day. 

This flip is a big win for Mel Tucker and the Spartans and it could be even more impactful if Gaoteote’s brother, Palaie Gaoteote IV, a former five-star recruit and the No. 1 linebacker in the class of 2018, follows him to East Lansing. 

This has been a big day for MSU as they have signed most of their incoming class, the first under Mel Tucker. Gaoteote was rumored to have been trending towards MSU and away from USC for the past couple of weeks, but his announcement today made it official. He joins Audric Estime and Rayshaun Benny as the only four-stars in the class but is the first of the three to sign his letter of intent. 

According to, Gaoteote is ranked as the No. 2 overall player in Nevada as well as the No. 155 overall player in the country. Gaoteote, who has a composite rating of 0.9318, is the highest-rated recruit that MSU has gotten in the 2021 class.

With the commitment of Gaoteote, the 2021 recruiting class is now ranked at No. 33 in the country, as well as No. 9 in the Big Ten.

Both Gaoteote brothers played at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, which is the same high school that produced MSU wide receiver Jalen Nailor. 

It remains to be seen what the rest of Mel Tucker’s team in 2021 will look like, as the coach has been very outspoken about the team’s activity in the transfer portal, but the Spartans got a big win today with the addition of Gaoteote.