LB Henry To'oto'o
ESPN 300 rank: 47
6-foot-2, 225 pounds
Concord, California/ De La Salle
Prediction:Tennessee Others in the mix: Alabama, Utah, USC, Washington
To'oto'o is another top recruit from California who could be headed out of state. Alabama and Tennessee have been battling hard for the linebacker and it seems it's between them. USC would love to keep him home, but the Vols and Tide have been recruiting him for awhile and the Vols could end up being the ultimate landing spot. It's tough to bet against Nick Saban in a recruiting battle, but Jeremy Pruitt is a former assistant of Saban's and could pull out a win.
Henry To’oto’o hardly talked to reporters throughout his recruitment. He stayed quiet. And focused. And worried more about developing as one of the nation’s best linebackers more than doing interviews.
So as signing day got closer, there were some leaks that Tennessee was the team to beat, that some close to him wanted him at Washington and Alabama was always playing a huge role in his recruitment.
On Wednesday, the four-star linebacker from Concord (Calif.) De La Salle announced his commitment to the Vols as they held off Alabama and Washington late in the process.
HOW IT HELPS TENNESSEE: This is a tremendous pickup for Tennessee because he visited Knoxville and had an excellent time but Alabama made him a top priority in this class and so did Washington but To’oto’o’s connections within the Vols’ staff played a huge role in his final decision.
Plus, the four-star linebacker sees an opportunity there. He knows Tennessee is coming off a disappointing season so he can step in and contribute early if he delivers in practice and coach Jeremy Pruitt is looking for playmakers on defense. To’oto’o is definitely one of them. He has the ability to come in and make plays all over the place as a linebacker and that’s what is needed to win in the SEC.
HOW IT HURTS THE OTHERS: This would have been an even more interesting recruitment if Tosh Lupoi stayed at Alabama because he has the connection to De La Salle and he and To’oto’o were close. That could have put it over the top for the Crimson Tide. But Lupoi is off to the NFL and while the four-star was still interested in Alabama for various reasons, Tennessee seemed to offer a little more coaching stability.
This also hurts Washington. The Pac-12 is starving for elite players to stay home so teams in that conference can compete for national titles. The Huskies have done a great job recruiting California and recruiting Polynesian players but To’oto’o slipped through their fingers and he’s off to the SEC.
One thing I held onto here was his IG page... only team he showed wearing their gear was UT in a couple of his pics other than the UA one with the uniform and trophy that was on there but his after game pics with his girl he was in a UT shirt and other time he had a UT shirt on and he doesn't post much.