To’o To’o Named to Another Preseason Watch List

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    Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

    Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o turned in a stellar freshman campaign in the 2019 season. Because of that, the rising sophomore is getting a ton of attention this offseason.

    To’o To’o was named to the preseason watch list for the Bednarik Award last week, the annual award given to the best defensive player in college football. On Monday of this week, UT’s young star was added to another prestigious award watch list.

    The Vols’ sophomore starting linebacker has been named to the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award, the annual honor given to the top linebacker in college football. The award is named after Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus and is presented by the Butkus Foundation.

    An independent Butkus Award Selection Committee comprised of 51 experts, including professional, college and high school scouts, and prominent sports journalists, conduct the selection process for each year’s choices and winner.

    To’o To’o is one of over 50 linebackers to be named to the preseason watch list, and he’s one of 15 SEC players on the list.

    In his first year with Tennessee, 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.

    No Tennessee player has ever won the Butkus Award, but UT has had several semifinalists for the award and a couple finalists.

    Keith DeLong (1988) and Raynoch Thompson (1999) were both finalists for the award. Al Wilson (1998), Eric Westmoreland (2000), Kevin Burnett (2004), and AJ Johnson (2014) were semifinalists for the award.