Longtime USC commit Ma’a Gaoteote flips to Michigan State after brother leaves Trojans

People line the tunnel as football players prepare to run onto the field.
USC players run onto the field before a Nov. 29 game. On Wednesday, the school lost linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote to Michigan State.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Nearly two years ago, linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote became the first player to commit to USC’s 2021 recruiting class.

But on Wednesday, just a few weeks after his older brother left USC, the four-star linebacker signed elsewhere, flipping to Michigan State on the first day of the early signing period.

Losing Gaoteote came as little surprise to USC, which had been bracing for the linebacker’s exit. Palaie Gaoteote, who arrived at USC as a five-star linebacker prospect, entered his name into the transfer portal earlier this month.

USC should return most of its linebacker depth in 2021, as several injured Trojans are expected to return. USC signed linebacker Julien Simon, a four-star prospect, on Wednesday.