The Tale of Two Transfers: Viewing a Rivalry from the Other Sideline
The Alabama Crimson Tide's homecoming matchup against the Tennessee Volunteers this weekend will feature a unique storyline: two transfers facing their former teams for the first time.
Alabama middle linebacker Henry To'o To'o announced he was leaving Knoxville and entered the transfer portal on Jan. 20th, 2021. After months of speculation and many people thinking he would come back to the Vols, he announced on May 8th, 2021 he would be joining the Crimson Tide. He chose Tennessee originally over Alabama and Washington but decided to enter the portal after the firing of head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
To'o To'o has already made an impact as the signal-caller on the Tide defense. He has 54 total tackles through seven games this season, 20 of them solo, and one sack. And his impact as a leader has been seen by the other members of Bama's defense.
“I mean, he’s very vocal. He’s also one of the leaders on our team. That’s a guy you can trust that knows his assignment. And when he makes a call, we’ll make sure all 11 guys on that same call. So he does a really great job with that," said linebacker Christian Harris in a press conference held earlier this week.
Tennessee defensive back Brandon Turnage left the Tide for the transfer portal on May 6th, 2021, and originally committed to Georgia on the 14th of the same month, before re-entering the portal and landing with the Volunteers on July 1st, 2021.
Turnage has made an impact himself on the Volunteers' defense in five games, with his efforts in their victory over South Carolina earning him SEC Defensive Player of the Week. He had 14 tackles, two of them for loss, against the Gamecocks in his first start of the season.
A couple of Crimson Tide stars, Malachi Moore and Jordan Battle, boasted about their friend when asked about him early this week.
“BT’s like a brother to us. He was here, and he’ll always be family no matter where he’s at. We FaceTime him pretty much almost every day, we talk to him almost every day and just seeing him and his daughter and stuff like that. So yeah, we’re still cool and we’re still very excited for him and the things he’s doing over there," said Moore.
“Me and BT speak every day. He’s one of my best friends. We have a life-long relationship. I’m very happy for him. I’m proud of him, especially for achieving that SEC Defensive Player of the Week a few weeks ago. I’m hoping for continued success from my guy," Battle said of his former teammate.
To'o To'o and Turnage may be on opposite sidelines for the rivalry game this weekend, but they both still have friends on the other side they'll be happy to shake hands with after the game. Tennessee wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. is one Volunteer who expressed just how happy he will be to see his old teammate To'o To'o this weekend.
“Henry’s like a brother to me. I was close with him from this past season. I’m just happy for the guy. He’s balling. They’re playing good over there, playing good football, and really just looking forward to this game because it’s the next game. But competing against my brother, I know it’s going to be fun out there. We’re all going to be competing, we’re all competitors. We’re just looking at it as the next team. After (the game) we can shake hands and laugh about it.”
Both transfers will take on their former team Saturday night at 6 p.m. and we will have coverage all day leading up the game right here on Tide 100.9 FM.