A Heisman Trophy winner, a Nagurski Trophy winner and a Tennessee football signee walk into a bar.
It's not the start of a joke. It's actually 60% of Alabama's leadership council as the Crimson Tide continue to navigate their 16th spring under coach Nick Saban.
Former Volunteers inside linebacker Henry To'o To'o, who played two seasons in Knoxville before transferring to Tuscaloosa last May, has a spot on Alabama's five-member leadership collection along with quarterback Bryce Young and outside linebacker Will Anderson. Rounding out the quintet are safety Jordan Battle and defensive lineman DJ Dale, who Saban announced as the most recent addition to the group.
To'o To'o earned his spot by racking up 113 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and a forced fumble for the 13-2 Crimson Tide, who won the Southeastern Conference championship with a 41-24 downing of Georgia but couldn't repeat the feat during a 33-18 loss to the Bulldogs in the title game of the college football playoff.
"I've spent a whole year here now, and I feel like I've earned the guys' trust," To'o To'o said in a recent news conference. "I'm able to speak up more and let them know what I see is wrong and holding guys to a standard. I think I could have done a better job of that last year.
"There is a standard here, and I am going to uphold that standard every single day."
Although the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder from Sacramento, California, is a senior, he is the youngest member of Alabama's leadership council in terms of time spent in Saban's program. Battle and Dale were four-star signees in the Crimson Tide's 2019 class, while Young and Anderson were five-star signees in 2020.
"Henry has been a really, really good leader," Saban said.
To'o To'o played in the middle last season alongside weakside linebacker Christian Harris, a three-year starter who announced in January that he was bypassing his senior season and has been pegged by NFL.com as a second-round selection in next month's draft.
Fifth-year senior Jaylen Moody is the top candidate to replace Harris and give Alabama a tandem to complement the havoc Anderson and Dallas Turner can wreak on the outside.
"As linebackers, we call it moving on a string," To'o To'o said when asked about replacing Harris. "If you do something, I do something, and we've got to move together. Getting to know the guy next to me on and off the field to where we can play as fast as we both can is what we're looking for, so it's kind of huge."
Alabama reduced its yards allowed per game to 304.1 last season after yielding 352.2 in 2020, when the Crimson Tide rolled to their sixth national championship under Saban. They were within 10 minutes of a seventh, having taken an 18-13 lead on Georgia, but the Bulldogs closed January's rematch in Indianapolis on a 20-0 run.
That was too much for To'o To'o to leave behind.
"I wanted to come back and finish things how I wanted and just leave everybody happy," he said. "We chase perfection here, and that's kind of the main reason I wanted to come back."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.