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Alabama LB Henry To’oto’o expresses his excitement about facing Tennessee

Henry To'oto'o celebrates a tackle
Photo courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Alabama offensive Tyler Steen faced his former team in week four of the season as the Crimson Tide earned a 55-3 victory over Vanderbilt at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Now, another Tide standout is about to face its former program. Before last year, Henry To’oto’o was on the opposite end of the “Third Saturday in October” rivalry. Nick Saban recruited him in 2019 to play for the Crimson Tide, but the California native chose the University of Tennessee. He became an impactful player for the Volunteers; however, he finished winless in two attempts against Alabama. To’oto’o earned his first victory cigar in 2021 with the Tide getting a 52-24 win over the Vols.

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Both teams are ranked in the top 10 for Saturday’s matchup, and the game feels competitive again.

To’oto’o is not concerning himself with victory cigars or external factors, but he is ‘super excited’ to go to Knoxville.

“It is going to be a huge challenge,” To’oto’o said about facing Tennessee.

“They have a great team. It is going to be a great environment, and I am excited about playing in another hostile environment to test who we are as a team. It is another big game on the road for us. It is a rivalry game with a lot of traditional ties, and this tradition runs deep. We have an opportunity to uphold that tradition and legacy of Alabama football.”

To’oto’o witnessed a lot of changes in his life since coming to Alabama last summer.

“The biggest change has been my body,” he said about where he’s grown the most. “Our strength and conditioning staff does a great job of knowing who you are as a person, knowing your strengths and fundamental things to work on, and also my game. The coaches do a great job. The little things matter as a football player, so I think that’s the biggest part of my game that has changed.”

To’oto’o, a senior, leads the Tide with 39 total tackles. He stands with 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, and one quarterback pressure.

To’oto’o has Alabama ranked sixth in the nation for scoring defense (12.5 ppg allowed) and sixth for total defense (250.8 ypg allowed). CBS will have the call on the game at 2:30 p.m. CT.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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