By Adam Aniba
This year's middle linebacker class features some true thumpers, but most do not excel in coverage. Alabama's Henry To'o To'o may not be a true downhill tone-setter, but might have the most upside as any coverage linebacker in this draft class.
Henry To'o To'o
6'2" 220 lbs | LB | ALA
Proj Late 2nd-3rd Rd
Career TENN (22 Games)- 140 TAK (74 solo), 12.5 TFL, 1.5 SACKS, 1 FR, 4 PD, 1 INT & 1 TD
Career ALA (28 Games)- 206 TAK (98 solo), 16 TFL, 6.5 SACKS, 1 FF & 2 PD
'22 Stats (13 Games)- 94 TAK (45 solo), 8 TFL & 2.5 SACKS
To'oTo'o grew up in Sacramento, CA and attended De La Salle High School, where he played linebacker and running back. To'oTo'o led his team to a 12-1 record and a state championship appearance during his senior year.
He was awarded the Bay Area News Group Player of the Year, the highly coveted Cal-Hi Sports State Defensive Player of the Year, USA Today All-USA California Team honors and 1st-Team MaxPreps All-America honors.
The De La Salle linebacker was a National top-50 recruit and one of the top 5 linebacker prospects in the country. To'oTo'o was rated as a 4-Star Recruit by ESPN with Alabama, Tennessee, Oregon, Washington and Utah recruiting him. The 4-Star prospect narrowed his choices down to Tennessee and Washington, ultimately choosing to be a Volunteer.
To'oTo'o played for the Volunteers from '19-'20, making 22 starts in 23 games. As a freshman he recorded 72 tackles, which was second among FBS freshman in addition to 10 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 QB pressure and 1 fumble recovery. His efforts led to him being named to the 2019 Freshman All-America Team and SEC All-Freshman Team.
Although he played multiple spots prior to his sophomore season, he predominantly lined up on the weak side during '20. That season he led Tennessee with 76 tackles and 10 tackles for a loss.
Following the '20 season, To'oTo'o elected to transfer to Alabama after former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired. The former Vols linebacker immediately stepped into the MIKE Linebacker role for Coach Nick Saban and called the pre-snap signals for the defense.
Per Tuscalooseanews.com Saban was impressed with the linebacker and entrusted him to make the defensive calls.
“He’s gotten better and better since he’s been here. Think he’s more and more confident and comfortable in what he’s doing. He was a good player last year and a really good player this year."
The Crimson Tide middle linebacker made his presence felt immediately, earning All-SEC Second Team honors and led the team with 113 tackles, 8.5 for loss, 4 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries, 2 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble.
In '22 To'oTo'o ranked second on the team and ninth in the SEC with 93 tackles, including 8 for loss and 2.5 sacks and 1 quarterback hurry. The MIKE linebacker was selected as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award (nation's top linebacker) and named to the Bednarik Award and Nagurski Trophy watch lists.
At Alabama To'oTo'o played in multiple fronts and alignments, which will prepare him for the next level. His experience playing WLB and MLB will also help his acclimation process on the next level.
Excels in pass coverage, shows impressive route recognition
High football IQ, who displayed the ability to be an effective signal caller for the defense with an understanding of situational football
Displays the ability to be thrive as a sideline-to-sideline inside linebacker
Impressive combination of strength & speed
Versatile linebacker who lined up and WLB and MLB
Habit of over-pursuing ball carriers at times, when going for the strip
A bit lean to be an every down linebacker, will need to add mass for the NFL grind
As a pass rusher, too often gets stonewalled by bigger o-lineman if caught up in traffic
Occasionally off the mark on his angles, when pursuing the ball
Needs work on his reads and can get pulled in by quarterbacks eyes
To'oTo'o is by far a finished product as a MIKE linebacker, but his instincts and upside in zone coverage are undeniable. He had the benefit of playing for two SEC programs and lining up at WLB and MLB.
Although the Crimson Tide middle linebacker is built more like a strong safety, it hasn't drastically hampered him when playing close to the line.
Adding 10-15 lbs in his first season should be a priority. His future team's strength and conditioning trainers, need to put emphasis on assuring he's ready for the NFL grind. In saying that, To'oTo'o is very strong and is natural when dropping into coverage, so not much tweaking should be required.
Who ever selects To'oTo'o will get an overachiever, who can be relied upon in coverage and also be the signal caller for the defense. The pre-draft process will be heavily scrutinized and his overall numbers might not blow teams away. To'oTo'o is a true gamer, with the ceiling to be a 3-down MLB and a valuable asset when playing in space.
*GAMES PLAYED- 9/10/22 vs Tex, 9/24 Vandi, 10/1 vs Ark, 10/8 vs Tex A&M, 10/15 vs Tenn, 10/22 Miss St., 11/5 vs LSU & 12/31 vs Kan St. (Sugar Bowl)
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