Notre Dame joined a small but rapidly growing list this week when it offered one of the top sophomore linebackers in the West.
Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman product Palaie Gaoteote added his fourth offer overall and the same in less than a month when he spoke to Irish linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Mike Elston on Wednesday morning.
“I was shocked,” Gaoteote said. “My dad knew that I was being offered the night before because the coaches told him, but I didn’t find out until I talked to them the next morning when I called right when I got out of bed.”
Notre Dame sees potential in the 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker to develop as a weak-side or strong-side linebacker at the next level.
“I talked to the linebackers coach, and he talked about the school and how rich in championships and tradition it is,” Gaoteote said. “He told me how they analyzed my film and what they liked about it. They like that I’m fast and that I play aggressive. He says that I can play either of the outside linebacker positions because I’m good at pass dropping and rushing the quarterback.”
Notre Dame has two Bishop Gorman products in tight end Alizé Jones and safety Nicco Fertitta. The Irish recently graduated offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, a projected first round draft pick in April.
Gaoteote, who grew up in Honolulu, also grew up watching former Irish Heisman Finalist and Butkus Award winner linebacker Manti Te’o.
“Notre Dame is such a brand name,” Gaoteote said. “I think of championships and tradition. And of course the past linebackers that they’ve had, like Manti Te’o. He’s one of my favorite players.”
Ohio State and Utah have since joined Notre Dame, Nebraska, Washington State and Wisconsin in offering Gaoteote, whose cousin is Notre Dame defensive tackle target and Ohio State commitment junior Haskell Garrett, also a Bishop Gorman product. Garrett visited South Bend this week.
“I’m still open to anyone,” Gaoteote said. “I don’t think I’ll make a decision until my senior year. It’s just amazing that I’m getting these offers right now.”
The Irish are in favorable position early to be a top contender.
“I think it could be a perfect fit at Notre Dame from what I know so far,” Gaoteote said.