Ohio State apparently adds USC transfer LB Palaie Gaoteote, a former 5-star prospect

Bill Rabinowitz
Buckeye Xtra
Palaie Gaoteote, celebrating after sacking Notre Dame's Ian Book in 2018, was ranked the country’s top inside linebacker and No. 15 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the 2018 recruiting class.

Ohio State apparently has added a former five-star linebacker from the University of Southern California as a transfer.

Though Ohio State has not confirmed the addition of Palaie Gaoteote IV, he is listed in the OSU student directory as a human development and family science major.

Gaoteote attended powerhouse Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, which produced current OSU defensive tackle Haskell Garrett. According to Gaoteote’s USC bio, Garrett is his cousin.

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Top four linebackers from 2020

Gaoteote’s addition would give Ohio State another option at linebacker. The Buckeyes’ top four linebackers from 2020 — Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, Pete Werner and Justin Hilliard — graduated.

Palaie Gaoteote had 38 tackles as a freshman and 58 as a sophomore at USC.

Gaoteote ranked top inside linebacker

The Buckeyes have plenty of candidates who’ve been working for their chance, but no one appeared to have locked down a starting job in the spring. One possibility, middle linebacker Dallas Gant, missed spring practice with a foot injury, though the senior said in March he expected to be healthy by the summer.

Gaoteote was ranked the country’s top inside linebacker and No. 15 overall prospect in the 247Sports.com composite rankings for the 2018 recruiting class.

But after a promising start at USC, he was slowed by injuries.

As a freshman, Gaoteote had 38 tackles, including 4½ for losses, in 10 games after recovering from preseason knee surgery.

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As a sophomore in 2019, Gaoteote was credited with 58 tackles in eight games before spraining his ankle and then reinjuring it late in the year.

Last year, he started USC’s first two games before suffering a season-ending concussion against Arizona. Gaoteote entered the NCAA transfer portal before USC’s game against UCLA on Dec. 12.

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