USC football loses linebacker Palaie Gaoteote to transfer portal

USC football linebacker Palaie Gaoteote. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football linebacker Palaie Gaoteote. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Palaie Gaoteote is in the transfer portal intending to leave USC football

Just when it looked like the linebacker spot couldn’t get any thinner, Palaie Gaoteote proved it could.

Trojan fans haven’t seen much of Gaoteote in 2020 since he has been in concussion protocol for the last month. They won’t be seeing more of him.

On Monday morning, the former five-star linebacker put his name in the transfer portal, according to multiple reports.

If he follows through on a transfer it will be a disappointing end to a Trojan career that once looked so promising.

Gaoteote was a five-star prospect in the class of 2018 and quickly earned playing time as a true freshman. A starring role against Colorado that season made him look destined to wear the No. 55 and lead the Trojan defense for years.

However, things didn’t play out that way. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast didn’t trust the youngster because of missed assignments and his 2019 performances as a starter were well below what was expected of him.

Hopes of new DC Todd Orlando reviving his career were high, but things just haven’t come together. Gaoteote was disappointing in his start against ASU and went out against Arizona with a concussion. He has been held off the field since.

It’ll be interesting to see what Gaoteote’s departure means for his brother, Ma’a Gaoteote, a four-star linebacker currently committed for the class of 2021.

USC football’s LB depth is in trouble without Palaie Gaoteote

The Trojans have a major worry at linebacker with Gaoteote walking away, at least through the remainder of the 2020 season.

Before the season even began injuries took Jordan Iosefa, Eli’Jah Winston and Solomon Tuliaupupu out of play. Ralen Goforth wasn’t able to play against Washington State because of a foot sprain, leaving Kana’i Mauga and converted safety Raymond Scott as the lone scholarship options.

To deal with those depth problems, Orlando deployed safety Talanoa Hufanga as a linebacker vs. WSU. The plan worked to perfection. It may need to be a feature of this defense going forward with depth getting no stronger.

Next. Trojans Finally Impress vs. WSU