After 12 scholarship players left the Michigan State football program in the month following the conclusion of the regular season, the exodus out of East Lansing attenuated.
But a new name popped in the NCAA transfer portal Wednesday: linebacker Ma'a Gaoteote, the top-rated recruit in the Spartans' 2021 recruiting class.
MSU coach Mel Tucker made a major splash in December 2020 when he persuaded Gaoteote to drop his commitment with USC and sign with the Spartans.
As the lone four-star prospect among Tucker's first batch of recruits — a group the coach jokingly referred to as his "Zoom babies" — the Las Vegas product was expected to make an immediate impact. But he contributed just seven tackles as a freshman while playing 100 snaps on defense and special teams in eight games.
Gaoteote is the 17th scholarship player on Michigan State's roster to enter the portal since September.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football's top 2021 recruit hits transfer portal