Tennessee sophomore linebacker Henry To’o To’o was named to the Bednarik Award watch list on Monday morning. The award is presented annually to the most outstanding defensive player in college football.
To’o To’o was one of 11 SEC players named to the 90-member watch list. He joined LSU sophomore cornerback Derek Stingley as the only other second-year player from the conference who was honored.
The Bednarik Award is named in honor of Chuck Bednarik, a former standout at the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL. It has been presented to the College Defensive Player of the Year since 1995.
Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced on Nov. 3, 2020, while the three finalists for the honor will be unveiled Nov. 23, 2020. The winner of the 2020 Bednarik Awards will be announced as part of the ESPN Home Depot College Football Awards Show held on Dec. 10, 2020.
To’o To’o earned freshman All-America honors from several organizations and was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after a tremendous rookie campaign in 2019. The Sacramento, California native finished second on the team with 72 tackles while starting 12 games at linebacker and playing in all 13 games. He added five tackles for loss, a half-sack, two pass breakups, three quarterback hurries, and a fumble recovery on the season. His 72 total tackles ranked second among SEC freshmen and fourth among FBS freshmen.
To’o To’o signed with Tennessee as a top-50 recruit and one of the top five linebacker prospects in the country out of national powerhouse De La Salle High School in Concord, California. He earned 2018 First-Team MaxPreps All-America and USA Today All-USA California Team honors as he helped lead De La Salle to a 12-1 record and a state championship appearance as a senior.
The Vols have never had a player win the Bednarik Award, but three UT players have finished as semifinalists for the honor. Most recently, defensive end Derek Barnett was a semifinalist in 2016, as were Eric Berry (2008) and Kevin Burnett (2004).
Tennessee is scheduled to kickoff it’s 2020 season on Sept. 5 against Charlotte in Neyland Stadium.