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USC Football recruiting: 2018 Elite Outside linebacker Palaie Gaoteote commits to the Trojans

Top ranked OLB verbally committed to USC.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual - USC v Penn State Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

USC football coach Clay Helton has done a masterful job of recruiting elite talent to play for the Trojans while also leading his team to a Pac-12 South championship and a Rose Bowl victory. Mere weeks after signing a loaded 2017 recruiting Helton and the staff are already starting the 2018 recruiting cycle with a huge victory as the Nation’s top outside linebacker in the nation Palaie Gaoteote announced on twitter Sunday that he has committed to USC.

Gaoteote had scholarships from pretty much ever major school in the country including the Alabama Crimson Tide, UCLA Bruins, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio State Buckeyes and many, many more. Not only is he the top outside linebacker according to 247 sports but he is also the 14th best player out of any position in the 2018 recruiting class.

Palaie Gaoteote Commits to USC

Gaoteote had reportedly been establishing a relationship with Ohio State Linebackers coach Billy Davis and Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer had been establishing quite the pipeline to Gaoteote’s high school and elite football recruit factory Bishop Gorman with the likes of elite signees such as Tate Martell and defensive tackle Haskell Garrett. The relationship seemed to be so solid that the 247 Crystal Ball predictions overwhelmingly favored Ohio State to sign Gaoteote.

Gaoteote expressed great humility in his statement thanking just about everyone who has ever helped him achieve his goals. He also apologized for only being able to choose just one school.

“After discussing with my family, I am excited to announce that I am committing to further my education and play football for the University of Southern California - USC!!!”

247 Sports asked Gaoteote to elaborate on why he chose USC to which he replied:

"Just the fit and it's what was right in my heart,"

USC linebackers and running backs coach Johnny Nansen was in charge of Gaoteote’s recruitment. Nansen has had remarkable recruiting success in his time at USC as Gaoteote joins a long list of elite USC players like Adoree’ Jackson, Damien Mama, and Ronald Jones II that Nansen has brought to USC.

The ability for Nansen and the USC coaching staff to recruit elite linebackers is essential in Clancy Pendergast’s 5-2 defense which relies on excellent play and versatility of outside linebackers and defensive ends.

Gaoteote brings a stellar ability to disrupt opposing offenses to the Trojans:

Gaoteote is 6’ 2”, 230 pounds and has an uncanny ability to quickly penetrate the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield blowing up plays before they even have a chance to develop. According to, Gaoeteote does not have any major weaknesses in his game but can still develop his speed and strength among other areas but he is already one of the best linebacker recruits in quite some time.

There are a ton of highlight videos of Gaoteote to check out over at Hudl but this one shows off his impressive physical abilities:

According to Reign of Troy, Gaoteote is the most highly touted linebacker recruit since Chris Galippo back in 2007 and he has the ability to make an instant impact for the Trojans his first day drawing comparisons to the great USC linebacker Ray Maualuga.

The Trojans still have a long way to go until National Signing Day 2018:

USC Football Coach Clay Helton and the rest of the coaching staff closed the 2017 recruiting cycle with a top-5 class and have already began to build an elite 2018 class very early in the cycle. The 2018 class so far includes verbal commits from two 5-star recruits in Gaoteote and 5-star quarterback Matt Corrall.

Helton also has verbal commits from four 4-star recruits including: Outside linebacker Raymond Scott, Wide Receiver Manuel Allen, cornerback Marcus Johnson, and outside linebacker Bo Calvert. The Trojans hold verbal commitments from the 1st, 3rd, and 14th best outside linebackers in the entire country. This could be a monster recruiting year for the USC Trojans particularly at the linebacker position.

There are still plenty more scholarship offers to hand out and spots in the 2018 class to fill to get to the allotted 25. This kind of early recruiting success however can drive momentum in landing other elite recruits. Conversely, until these early verbal commits actually sign their national letter of intent on National Signing Day 2018 plenty of school will still continue to try and flip these players. It will be the job of Helton and company to keep their verbal commits on board while trying to expand the class with elite players.

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