Tennesse linebacker Henry To'o To'o picks Alabama as transfer destination over Ohio State

Buckeye Xtra
Tennessee linebacker Henry To'o To'o (11) smiles after making a play during a football game between Tennessee and UAB at Neyland Stadium on Saturday, November 2, 2019.

To bolster an inexperienced linebacker corps, Ohio State had targeted Henry To’o To’o this spring.

But To’o To’o, a former linebacker from Tennessee who first entered the transfer portal in January following the Volunteers’ firing of coach Jeremy Pruitt, will not join the Buckeyes.

On Saturday, he announced he would transfer to Alabama, posting a graphic on his social media accounts that featured a photoshopped image of himself in a Crimson Tide uniform.  

Henry To'o To'o had a big 2020 season

Last fall, To’o To’o was Tennessee’s leading tackler, and he had previously earned freshman All-American honors in his first season as a starter in 2019.

He was a former top-50 recruit out of De La Salle High School, the national powerhouse program in Concord, California.

Ohio State's outlook at linebacker

The Buckeyes are breaking in a new group of starting linebackers after losing seniors Tuf Borland, Baron Browning, Justin Hilliard and Pete Werner from last season’s team.

Depth at the position was already thin by the end of spring practice last month. During the spring game, only five scholarship linebackers were available to participate in the intrasquad scrimmage as Dallas Gant and Mitchell Melton were sidelined by injuries.

Gant, projected as the starting middle linebacker, missed spring practice because of a foot injury, but expects to be fully recovered by the time preseason training camp begins in August.  Melton, though, could be out for a longer period of time. Coach Ryan Day characterized his setback as a “long-term injury.” He was walking on crutches in April.

What's next for Ohio State?

It’s possible the Buckeyes could heavily target another transfer linebacker following To’o To’o’s commitment to Alabama.

Ohio State has bolstered its roster with additions through the transfer portal in previous offseasons, adding running back Trey Sermon last spring, as well as quarterback Justin Fields and offensive lineman Jonah Jackson in 2019.

If unable to add another linebacker to its roster, defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs could lean on a 4-2-5 formation it showed during some of the final spring practice, a look that relies on 

jkaufman@dispatch.com

@joeyrkaufman