Fact or Fiction: Palaie Gaoteote will be better than Henry To'oto'o
In today’s Fact or Fiction, national columnist Mike Farrell looks at three big recent topics in college football and decides whether each statement is indeed FACT or if it’s FICTION.
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1. Palaie Gaoteote will be better than Henry To’oto’o.
Farrell’s take: FICTION. The former five-star linebacker from USC is apparently enrolled and on campus at Ohio State and the comparisons to To’oto’o are inevitable. Both are linebackers who were star recruits out West, and Gaoteote is pretty much replacing To’oto’o in the portal after the former Tennessee linebacker chose Alabama over the Buckeyes.
They are also both big hitters who could have a major impact on the national title race. Who got the better of this deal, Alabama or Ohio State? I am leaning toward To’oto’o based on some injuries Gaeteote has had in his career.
2. Jake Smith will end up back home in Arizona.
Farrell’s take: FACT. I could be way off here as the first school that jumped to my mind when the former Arizona high school star entered the portal was USC. Smith's decision came down to Texas and USC during the recruiting process before choosing Tom Herman and the Longhorns, so you’d assume a major program like the Trojans would be the destination for a former top 50 player.
But here’s what’s odd: The Texas wide receiver depth chart is much less formidable than the one at USC as the Trojans have Drake London, Gary Bryant, Bru McCoy, Michael Jackson and two wide receiver transfers in Tahj Washington and KD Nixon. The level of interest at USC isn’t known yet, but the Arizona Wildcats might be one to watch.
I would have said Arizona State with Jayden Daniels before their NCAA investigation, but keep an eye on Arizona and new head coach Jedd Fisch, who has worked under some amazing offensive minds such as Steve Spurrier, Brian Billick, Mike Shanahan, Sean McVay and others. And the Wildcats desperately need a No. 1 wide receiver. If Smith wants to play and have a starring role, watch out for Arizona.
3. Georgia has surpassed Oklahoma as the No. 1 team in the county heading into next season.
Farrell’s take: FACT. I had Oklahoma as my No. 1, and the offense will be unstoppable with Spencer Rattler and company, but I worry about the defense a bit, especially the secondary. Georgia has a potentially amazing offense as well and a great defense, but I also worried about its secondary.
While OU helped itself with transfer Key Lawrence, Georgia took it to the next level with Tykee Smith and Derion Kendrick. That, along with the addition of potential superstar Arik Gilbert at wide receiver/tight end, sealed the deal for me and UGA is my preseason No. 1.
Oh, and Alabama will probably beat both for the national title. That’s just how things work.