KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Despite losing more to the transfer portal than Penn State and Baylor did during their respective scandals, the Vols have gone toe-to-toe with every opponent in the 2021 season so far. Now, the time has come to face former star linebacker Henry To’o To’o and the Crimson Tide.
Alabama’s defense presents a number of challenges for Tennessee on Saturday, including their leading tackler, former Vol, To’o To’o. While in the orange and white he led the team in tackles in 2020 with 76 and 10 tackles for loss before leaving in the offseason for Bama.
His impact hasn’t wavered as he’s their leading tackler and tied a career-high with 13 against Mississippi State last week. Running back coach Jerry Mack said he’s been impressed with the linebacker’s film, which is a lot of what his former teammates know all too well.
“When you watch on film he’s very active. He does a good job in space wrapping up making tackles. You don’t see a lot of people getting pad plus two when he touches you, you probably go down.”
Vols wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. added, “He was a great player being here with him last season. His passion, love for the game. He’s a ballhawk. I have never been hit by him but I feel like I’m a very physical guy. I guess we’ll see what that looks like.”
Both defensive lineman Matthew Butler and Jones Jr. shared the sentiment when talking to the media this week and that there’s no love lost between them and To’o To’o. They said they still talk with him and wish him nothing but the best in his career. For the Third Saturday in October, it’s Tennessee against Alabama, nothing more, nothing less.
During Wednesday’s SEC teleconference, coach Josh Heupel said he didn’t have a chance to talk to To’o To’o to try to convince him to stay. He said he thinks that ship had already sailed at that point.