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Signing Day: Tennessee beats out Alabama for four-star linebacker Henry To’oto’o

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Major boom.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Pruitt has won the latest recruiting battle over Nick Saban, landing four-star linebacker Henry To’oto’o. Alabama, Tennessee and Washington had been locked in a three way battle for the California linebacker, but the Vols have emerged victorious in the end.

It’s a huge pull for Pruitt, who desperately needed another linebacker in this class after missing on Chris Russell. It’s the second consecutive recruiting cycle that saw the Vols land a highly-ranked linebacker, following JJ Peterson last year.

This battle came all the way down to the wire, seemingly tilting back and forth between the Tide and the Vols. To’oto’o took his official visit to Tennessee on January 11th, earning the Vols some momentum. That momentum spilled over when Tosh Lupoi, who was To’oto’o’s primary recruiter at Alabama, left the Tide for the Browns.

You can never count out Nick Saban, however. Alabama seemed be the school to beat after To’oto’o’s official visit on January 25th. Saban followed that up with an in-home visit on the 31st. Jeremy Pruitt and Brian Niedermeyer stuck with it though, ultimately convincing him to come to Tennessee.

Another factor in To’oto’o’s recruitment was Kevin Simon. The former Tennessee linebacker who is now on Jeremy Pruitt’s staff starred at De La Salle High School in California — the same school To’oto’o attends now.

To’oto’o is the 44th ranked player in this class, checking in at 6-2, 230 pounds. Both he and four-star athlete Quavaris Crouch could fits at inside linebacker for Pruitt at Tennessee, though they will likely get some looks at each linebacker position.

With To’oto’o now in the fold, that checks an immediate need off Pruitt’s list for 2020.