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Michigan State linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote withdraws from transfer portal

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Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Pittsburgh v Michigan State Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images

Michigan State linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote has withdrawn his name from the transfer portal, according to Matt Zenitz of On3 Sports.

Gaoteote initially entered the transfer portal on Jan. 19 following his true freshman season. He announced his intention to look for opportunities outside of East Lansing in a since deleted tweet on Jan. 20. All of these signs point to Gaoteote changing his mind and deciding to return to the Spartans.

Gaoteote was a four-star recruit and the highest-rated member of Michigan State’s 2021 class. He played 111 total snaps over eight games for the Spartans during the 2021 campaign, amassing seven total tackles, one pass defended and a forced fumble in nine games this past season. He saw 65 snaps on defense and 46 snaps on special teams, according to msuspartans.com.

He was one of 19 Spartans to enter the transfer portal since the 2021 season began. It appears that number will go back down to 18 following Gaoteote’s reported new decision. Fellow linebackers Chase Kline (Eastern Michigan) and Cole DeMarzo (Wyoming) also entered the transfer portal and have since found new programs.

As for competition for Gaoteote in the linebackers room, Michigan State returns both of last year’s starters in Quavaris Crouch and Cal Haladay, as well as key backup Ben VanSumeren. It is possible that Noah Harvey, who played in 11 games and started four contests in 2021, could return as well, using his sixth year of eligibility granted by the 2020 COVID-19 waiver.

Update: Harvey has since confirmed he will not return to Michigan State for the 2022 season, and is pursuing the NFL Draft:

Mel Tucker and the MSU staff have also dipped into the transfer portal at the position and brought in UNLV transfer Jacoby Windmon and Mississippi State transfer Aaron Brule. Additionally, three-star recruit Quavian Carter signed with the Spartans as part of the 2022 recruiting class.

Rainer Sabin of the the Detroit Free Press has also confirmed the news on Gaoteote.