Alex Bullard is preparing to dole out a truckload of bad news.
Of 17 schools that have offered him a football scholarship, a dozen will have to exit stage left. No parting gifts. Thanks for coming.
The elimination round is to occur later this month. As for now, the offensive lineman from Brentwood Academy was willing to give the News Sentinel a sneak peek at his top five.
Tennessee, Florida and Notre Dame will assuredly be a part of that initial grouping, Bullard said on Friday.
UT's inclusion is merely a formality. The 6-foot-4, 275-pounder always has spoken highly of UT, which has more than just proximity on its side.
"I like the coaches there a lot," Bullard said. "I'm a big Phillip Fulmer fan. He's a great guy. I really like him."
Bullard said he appreciates the tradition and prestige of Notre Dame and Florida, although he hasn't been to Gainesville yet, meaning his knowledge of the Gators is limited.
As for Notre Dame, Bullard took a trip to South Bend this spring and came away impressed with its academic offerings.
"A degree from Notre Dame is really, really impressive," Bullard said.
UT will be quick to point out that there's a long list of private school students, like Bullard, that have achieved great academic success at UT while enjoying playing for a high-profile football program.
Quarterback Peyton Manning, running back Troy Fleming, fullback Will Bartholomew and offensive lineman Jacques McClendon come to mind. Such academic success is important for Bullard.
"I want to feel comfortable about a degree that I get from whatever school I decide to go to," he said. "That degree will support me and my family into the future."
Early playing time is another factor for any offensive lineman considering the Vols. All of UT's projected starters on the offensive line this fall are upperclassmen.
"I'm not going to say it's the No. 1 factor, but it's always something that you get excited about," Bullard said. "Who wants to sit around and watch for four years?"
Bullard has visited UT, Alabama and Notre Dame. He said there will be other visits this summer, although no itinerary has been set.
Bullard is more focused on a growth spurt than a travel schedule. With an inch or two more, he can play his desired position: offensive tackle.
Whether Bullard plays tackle or guard in college, the Vols would love to have him doing so in orange.
Rare Rivals: Expect Virginia and Virginia Tech to be frequent foes for UT on the recruiting trail this year.
As expected, first-year UT assistant coaches Dave Clawson and Latrell Scott are returning to some of their old stomping grounds. Both have strong ties in Virginia from their time coaching at Richmond.
UT is recruiting at least four Virginia prospects: defensive end William Hill from Lafayette High in Williamsburg, offensive lineman Morgan Moses from Meadowbrook High in Richmond, linebacker Mike Privott from Lake Taylor High in Norfolk and defensive end/linebacker Tyrel Wilson from Hampton High.
Moses is one of the top prospects in the nation and is considering UT, along with almost a dozen other high-profile schools.
"Tennessee is a good school and I'm looking to see more about what they're offering," Moses told GoVolsXtra.com this week.
Wilson, whom UT's coaching staff is evaluating, has strong ties to UT. His father, James Wilson, was a Vol defensive end from 1989 to 1993 and a captain during his senior season.
"There's something about Tennessee, the vibe they have," said Tyrel Wilson, who lived in Tennessee for much of his childhood before moving to Virginia. "It makes my heart start pumping when I hear 'Rocky Top'."
James Wilson said his son won't make a decision until after his senior season and is considering several options.
"I would love for him to be involved there," the elder Wilson said of UT. "What dad wouldn't be proud?"
As for Clawson and Scott, they proved to be top Richmond wranglers when they convinced a class of well-respected 2008 recruits to commit to Richmond.
Linebacker Derek Mayo was one of Richmond's top signees. Mayo's brother, Jerod Mayo, played for UT and was selected 10th in first round of the NFL draft last week by the New England Patriots.
Clawson and Scott clearly raised Richmond's recruiting image in Virginia.
They're now trying to do the same for Tennessee.
Dave Hooker covers recruiting. He can be reached at email@example.com.