Profile: Palaie Gaoteote
Location: Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Weight: 230 pounds
Recruiting: Gaoteote took an unofficial visit to USC earlier today and committed while on campus. We knew the Trojans were on the short list but didn't know he was ready to commit this early. Following his commitment, the athlete said the Trojans were his childhood favorite and the school he always dreamed about playing for since he was little so the early commitment made sense. We also heard he wanted to shut things down early before his senior year and focus on school and football.
What to Like: Gaoteote is the top rated player in the West region and one of the best linebacker prospects I've seen come out of the west region in the last decade. He's simply without a weakness and in several of the Gaels biggest games last season against top level competition, he was the best player on the field. He's tough, physical, active and athletic an you just don't see players with his size, be able to move laterally as well as he does. There were games where on one play he would blitz off the edge and hit the QB, then run down a play from behind the next and then drop back in to coverage 30 yards down the field and make a play in coverage the very next play. He's a high motor kid with a mean streak and plays with a ton of passion and energy. When you combine his work ethic off the field, intangibles and all the physical tools he possesses, it's tough to imagine a scenario, barring injury, where Gaoteote isn't playing football at the highest level for a very long time.
Areas to improve: We mentioned there really isn't a weakness to Gaoteote's game so in looking for an area to improve, it's tough to find anything. Obviously, every athlete, no matter what level of ball they're playing at, can always improve their speed, strength, quickness, etc. Gaoteote told us today he's put on 20 pounds of muscle since last season and is now weighing 230 pounds on a solid 6-2 frame, while maintaining his agility. He's a fluid athlete so the added weight shouldn't affect his mobility and the impressive thing is he can still make another jump up in his game as he matures as a player.
Overall Analysis: The Trojans are putting together an incredible LB class and Gaoteote is easily the headliner. He's the nation's top player at his position and locking him up early following all the momentum the Trojans had on Signing Day shows USC is definitely ready to compete at the national level. We understand early commitments don't mean a lot these days but Gaoteote doesn't strike us as the kind of kid who's going to commit and still take all of his visits and play the recruiting game. This is a player who committed early so he can shut things down not just commit for some media attention like so many other players are now fond of doing.
To see Gaoteote in action from this past season, check out his junior highlights below: