When former USC linebacker Palaie Gaoteote appeared in the university’s student directory in June, it felt like a matter of time before he announced his decision to transfer to Ohio State.
More than a month has passed, however, and the only confirmation of Gaoteote’s intention to play for the Buckeyes came in a photo posted to the program’s official Twitter account of him at Topgolf with the other linebackers.
The reason for that, head coach Ryan Day said during Big Ten Media Days on Friday, is because there are still some academic hurdles Gaoteote must clear before he can be added to the team and placed on scholarship.
“He's paying his own way right now,” Day said. “And then we're going to hear from the NCAA about his eligibility here maybe in a few weeks, and then we'll go from there.”
In the meantime, Gaoteote – the cousin and former high school teammate of Ohio State fifth-year senior defensive tackle Haskell Garrett – is permitted to participate in team activities. His addition is much-needed for a linebacker unit that is set to replace its top four players at the position this fall.
It was previously reported that the Buckeyes were awaiting word on an appeal that would make Gaoteote immediately eligible since he entered the transfer portal before the NCAA implemented the one-time transfer exception. Day said that isn’t the case, though.
“This one’s a little bit different. This is not that,” Day said. “This is more of an eligibility situation.”
A former five-star prospect from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, Gaoteote took an unofficial visit to Ohio State before committing to USC during the 2018 recruiting cycle. He recorded 105 tackles, 7.5 tackles and two sacks in 20 games over three years with the Trojans.
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