Henry To'oTo'o explains culture shock in transfer to Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Henry To'oTo'o understands the difficulties of being a transfer.
The former inside linebacker at Tennessee came to Alabama after making 22 starts with the Volunteers during his two-year stint.
Despite garnering All-SEC Second Team honors and leading the Crimson Tide with 113 total tackles, To'oTo'o said there was a bit of a culture shock when he arrived in Tuscaloosa.
"There was definitely," To'oTo'o said. "Nobody works as hard as we do. That's something that you have to embrace. That's something that Coach Saban has built here. We're going to work every single day. We're going to outwork our opponent whether it's watching film, through the fourth quarter program, spring ball or fall camp. That was something I had to adjust to, but it's a culture of mine now and it's my responsibility to teach the younger guys so they can keep the legacy going."
With To'oTo'o's experience with adapting to Alabama's standard, he's now taken it upon himself to help the next group of transfers joining the program. This offseason, the Crimson Tide brought in five college transfers including receivers Jermaine Burton (Georgia) and Tyler Harrell (Louisville) as well as running back Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech), cornerback Eli Ricks and offensive tackle Tyler Steen (Vanderbilt).
"One thing I told them, especially for the guys that transferred in now was, 'Never change who you are, but adapt to the culture," To'oTo'o said. "Being able to learn Coach Saban's ways, learn the Alabama standard and finesse your game around that. That's the one thing that kind of helped me was being able to hone in on that standard and perspective."
To'oTo'o returns for his second season as the starting Mike linebacker and will once again be relied upon to lead the defense this season.
Despite joining the team from Tennessee last year, To'oTo'o said that he doesn't "consider himself as a transfer anymore," but like the rest of the Crimson Tide, is committed to moving forward to this season and not looking back.
"I'm about to get a degree for the University of Alabama and I'm super excited about that and being a part of this family. The bond that we have as a team from the character that we're building as a defense, as an offense and as a whole team. It's something you have to create to be a good team."