football Edit

Pruitt 'excited' to land To’oto’o, notes 'built-in relationship' with Simon

NASHVILLE — Tennessee capped Wednesday with a signing day stunner, beating out Alabama and Washington for 4-star De La Salle (Calif.) linebacker Henry To’oto’o.

The Vols had to wait a bit for To’oto’o’s NLI, but the blue-chip linebacker officially became the final signee of the 2019 class.

“We’re excited we got him,” head coach Jeremy Pruitt said Thursday in Nashville at a Tennessee NSD Celebration event.

“He’s a very instinctive guy. He’s got good size and speed. He loves the game and spends a lot of time studying film.”

To’oto’o, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound inside linebacker, made his announcement live on ESPNU, saying, “I chose Tennessee because I felt like home, even though it’s all the way out there in the South. I felt comfortable down there, especially with Kevin Simon being an alumni, and I just love what Coach Pruitt’s doing down there.”

While Brian Niedermeyer and Kevin Sherrer helped spearhead To’oto’o’s recruitment, Simon, who was a DLS standout and former Vol linebacker, served as Tennessee’s secret weapon. The current quality control analyst had a prior relationship with To’oto’o’s family and specifically got a national TV shoutout Wednesday.

“I think our guys done a really good job of recruiting him — Coach Niedermeyer, Coach Sherrer, Coach Simon — but in recruiting it takes everybody,” Pruitt said.

“We probably had a little bit of a built-in relationship there. You’ve got a guy like Kevin Simon that came from De La Salle and went to Tennessee and had success, so it’s been done before.”