football Edit

BREAKING: LB Henry To'oto'o picks Tennessee over Alabama, Washington

Tennessee pulled off a stunner on National Signing Day, landing 4-star linebacker Henry To’oto’o over Alabama and Washington in a live announcement on ESPNU.

The Del La Salle standout took an official visit to Tennessee in mid-January, with the Vols capturing some real momentum for the Top-100 prospect. To’oto’o brought his entire family to Knoxville and the California native bonded well with former De La Salle star Kevin Simon and Tennessee coaches Brian Niedermeyer and Jeremy Pruitt, saying the visit “felt confirming.”

With inside linebacker depth a concern, the Vols pitched To’oto’o, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound inside linebacker, an opportunity to compete for early playing time. During his official visit to Tennessee, Pruitt showed To’oto’o lots of tape of how he developed and used linebackers like Reuben Foster and Mack Wilson at Alabama. The message definitely resonated with the All-American Bowl signee.

“If I were to be able to come in and do what I’m supposed to do and be able to compete, I feel I can contribute early,” To’oto’o told VolQuest.

“I don’t like being guaranteed anything, and I don’t like when coaches tell me I can come in right away and play. But Coach Pruitt basically said that, and told me, as long as I do my work and do what I’m supposed to do and work hard through this offseason and learn the playbook the way I’m supposed to, I’ll be able to come in and play.”

Still, Tennessee had to overcome strong pushes by Alabama, the longtime favorite for To’oto’o, and Washington, just to land the 4-star linebacker. To’oto’o took a his final OV to Tuscaloosa and has several ties with the Huskies.

In the end, the attention by Niedermeyer, who flew out to California every week during the contact period, final in-home visit just before the dead period and the desire to play early in the SEC won out for the Vols.