A few years ago, the USC football program got some great news when they landed five-star linebacker recruit Palaie Gaoteote IV. Now, after three seasons with the Trojans, the former No. 1 ranked LB will be taking his talents elsewhere.
Five months after his entrance into the NCAA transfer portal back in December, it appears Gaoteote will likely be joining the Texas Longhorns in 2021.
According to college football insider Matt Zenitz, the Longhorns are the clear frontrunners in the race to land the star LB.
The expectation is that former USC linebacker Palaie Gaoteote will transfer to Texas, per sources.
Former five-star recruit who was a starter at USC last year before suffering a season-ending injury. Had 58 tackles in eight games in 2019.
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) May 7, 2021
Coming into the USC program as the No. 1 ranked linebacker and No. 15 overall recruit in the nation (per 247Sports), Gaoteote had an immediate impact as a freshman — logging 96 tackles and two sacks through his first two seasons in LA.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, Gaoteote suffered a down year in 2020. Paired with a notably-shortened PAC-12 COVID-19 campaign, a season-ending concussion saw the star defender play in just two games this past season.
If Palaie Gaoteote does end up in Austin next season, he’ll provide a much-needed boost of talent at the linebacker position for newly-hired head coach Steve Sarkisian. As of right now, the Longhorns only have three players on the roster listed as LB: Demarvion Overshown, David Gbenda and Jaylan Ford. Overshown is the only of these three players to have any significant collegiate experience, logging 79 tackles and three sacks through three seasons with Texas.
As a highly-touted option out of high school, Gaoteote was recruited by nearly every top program in the country — including the Longhorns. In an odd coincidence, the star LB was originally recruited by the Texas program by way of former UT linebackers coach Todd Orlando, who took over as USC’s defensive coordinator prior to the 2020 season.
According to 247Sports Texas insider Mike Roach, Gaoteote is expected to make his official decision sometime in the next week or so.