Vols Among Top Schools for Elite Outside Linebacker

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    (Photo via @HenryTootoo1 on Twitter)

    Tennessee needs to find as many elite-level edge rushers as they can moving forward in recruiting. And right now, they’re in a great spot with one of the top outside linebackers in the 2019 recruiting class.

    Henry To’oto’o is one of the highest-rated outside linebackers in the current 2019 recruiting cycle. He and the Vols have developed a good relationship, and he included Tennessee as one of his top five teams in his recruitment in a tweet on early Wednesday evening. The Vols made the cut along with Alabama, Oregon, Washington, and California.

    According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, To’oto’o is the No. 39 overall player and No. 2 outside linebacker in the 2019 class. He’s a borderline five-star player according to those rankings, and he holds offers from his top five schools and other programs like Michigan, Florida, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and others.

    The Vols have a unique connection with To’oto’o that few other schools can boast. Kevin Simon, a former Vol linebacker who is now on staff in an off-field role with Tennessee, played at De La Salle before coming to Knoxville for college. To’oto’o has been in communication with Simon, and the two have formed a good relationship.

    And that relationship could be an edge for Tennessee.

    The elite linebacker took an unofficial visit to Tennessee back in mid-June, and he attended a camp at Alabama shortly after that. The Vols will try to get To’oto’o to take an official visit to Knoxville later this year, and with them making his top five schools, there’s a very good chance they can convince him to do so.

    To’oto’o’s highlight film from his junior season shows off his athleticism and elite ability to pursue the ball carrier. He has great agility and is stronger than he looks. He possesses some high level vision and awareness and isn’t easy to stop when he’s intent on reaching either the quarterback or a running back. He’s not bad in the flat on passing downs either.

    The 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker will need to add weight once in college, and that might prevent him from making as big of an immediate impact as other players at his ranking. But the skill is absolutely there, and you can see it on his film. He led De La Salle in tackles last year and looks to be a leader at the famous school this year.

    Plucking To’oto’o out of California won’t be easy. But the Vols have a unique relationship with the talented linebacker, and that could be advantage UT needs.

    Tennessee currently has 20 commitments in their 2019 class, and they have commitments from two players who project as pass rushers/outside linebackers for the Vols. Three-star defensive end Jalil Clemons and three-star defensive end Roman Harrison both seem to project as outside linebackers in UT’s 3-4 defensive system, and both have a lot of upside in the Vols’ 2019 class.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.