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Michigan State football: Depth will ease pain of losing Ma’a Gaoteote

Fortunately, Michigan State is loaded at linebacker.



Michigan State football
© Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State football lost linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote to an injury during the spring game but depth will ease that pain.

The Michigan State football spring game on Saturday generated a fair deal of rumblings, particularly about the quarterback room. Most fanbases consider this a rite of passage every year.

However, another seemly annual occurrence at the MSU spring game was an untimely injury. Especially when MSU is showing any sort of promise or continuity at a position, a key player goes down. This year that came in the form of linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote, who went out with an apparent injury to the shoulder and/or arm area.

While it’s easy to roll our eyes at MSU’s atrocious luck in the injury department, this particular one should worry MSU fans less. Because looking at the linebacking position, MSU is loaded.

The most significant return in the linebacker room will assuredly be Jacoby Windmon. Prior to his four-game suspension, he was putting up video game numbers. And even more impressively, a large portion of those came while he was playing defensive end, which is not his natural position. The MSU staff wisely moved him to linebacker midway through last season, which immediately paid dividends.

MSU’s other starter, Cal Haladay, returns for his third season following a strong start to his Spartan career. He made the 2021 Freshman All-American team, and in 2022 followed up with a second-team All-Big Ten recognition. During his sophomore season, he also led the conference in tackles per game with 10.0. And per usual the bogeyman did it with no need for those silly gloves.

Additionally, MSU will boast a healthy Darius Snow. He sustained a freak injury in the season opener against Western Michigan (see a pattern?). So, we never got to see him playing the position at full speed. Having previous experience at safety, Snow will bring mobility to a position that often needed some help in pass coverage situations. Not to mention he laid the lumber with some of the hits we saw in his brief time on the field last season.

On top of all the returning players, MSU also adds Jordan Hall, the No. 164 ranked player in the 2023 class, per 247Sports Composite. The heralded four-star had a strong showing in the spring game and has the fans buzzing. He is certain to challenge for playing time as a true freshman.

MSU rounds out the position with some nice depth as well. Keep an eye out for Aaron Brule, Quavian Carter, and Aaron Alexander as we head into the fall.

With all of this talent, you have to wonder how MSU will have enough snaps to rotate everyone. That’s a very good problem to have and will be exciting to watch unfold.

I graduated from MSU in 2016 with a BS in Electrical Engineering. I met my wife there, and we now live in Madison, WI with our two boys (ages 3 and 1). I write on here and spew on Twitter as an outlet for my useless MSU sports knowledge.


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