Alex Bullard is a sophomore offensive lineman who spent the first two seasons of his college career playing for the University of Notre Dame.
However, the former Brentwood Academy standout may be one of the Vols' biggest acquisitions during the offseason. Along with junior Dallas Thomas, sophomores Ja'Wuan James, James Stone, Zach Fulton, and freshmen Antonio Richardson and Marcus Jackson, the addition of Bullard will make the Vols' offensive line a solid group if it reaches its assumed potential.
"I think our line will be good this season," Bullard said. "We have an excellent offensive line coach (in Harry Hiestand). He's a great teacher and knows the game really well. He can explain it really well. And he makes us better every day."
The transition from South Bend, Ind., to Knoxville has been smooth, Bullard said. The Franklin, Tenn., native said he is happy to be back in his home state.
"It's really good to be home", Bullard said. "All of my friends from high school are here, so I get to see them. My mom comes up all the time, so I'm just happy to be close to home and to my friends and family and playing for my home state."
The only obstacle between Bullard and a starting position on UT's offensive line is the NCAA's rules of eligibility for a transfer student. Following the death of his father, Bullard enrolled in UT and, if granted a hardship waiver, may be eligible to play for the 2011 season.
"I put the waiver in, so we should know by the end of the spring," Bullard said. "I feel pretty good about it, so we'll just have to wait and see."
A former four-star recruit, Bullard would bring size and experience to the Vols if eligible this season.
"Rarely do you get a guy for free with that kind of size and ability," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "He's a really good football player."
Through the first few spring practices, the versatile Bullard has seen work at both tackle and center.
"I'm just going to do my best and do whatever they ask me to do to the best of my abilities," Bullard said. "I'm going to try to come out here and play as hard as I can. I want to inspire as many people as I can to play harder and hopefully win us an SEC championship."
If he can reach his full potential, Bullard is expected to be a major contributor to a UT offense that saw an improvement in production last season and is entering the 2011 campaign with greater expectations than in previous seasons. The addition of Bullard creates an increase in depth at a position that struggled to find experience and players to fill empty spots.
On Tuesday, Dooley announced Bullard would most likely spend the remainder of spring practice working as the team's starting right tackle after James was diagnosed with mononucleosis.