Alex Bullard adds another position to his UT resume

Versatile sophomore sees action at guard

Vols football practice - Aug. 11, 2011

Corey Miller talks about the Vols' first scrimmage of the fall

Eric Gordon talks about the defense after Thursday's practice

Marsalis Teague talks about the competition for starting positions

Coach Derek Dooley comments after Thursday morning's practice

Dooley gets Shakespearean with the Vols

Dooley talks about sophomore Alex Bullard's flexibility on offense

Shopping for help on the Tennessee offensive line is much easier these days.

No matter what they might need, with Alex Bullard around it's one size fits all for the Vols.

A tackle goes down with mononucleosis in the spring? Just plug in Bullard.

Need depth at center? Try Bullard.

Less than pleased with the battle at left guard after the first scrimmage of camp earlier this week? The next time the Vols hit the field for the first of two practices on Thursday, naturally Bullard was checking off another new spot in the rotation.

"Just knowing all three positions helps me understand the concepts better," Bullard said. "So, I mean, I've been at center and tackle and (Thursday) is the first time since I've been here that I lined up at guard — and I knew what to do because I knew both tackle and center.

"It wasn't a big adjustment."

The fact that the sophomore brushes off or doesn't seem to worry about differences between any of the five positions on the line helps make him the ideal candidate to fill them all if need be, and his 6-foot-2, 309-pound body and a high-level football mind don't hurt, either.

The versatility of the Notre Dame transfer has made him the ultimate multipurpose tool for the Vols up front since he can play anywhere along the line, even without much notice. And after one scrimmage with mixed results in a battle at left guard, the Vols quickly turned to Bullard to plug a possible hole.

"He gets about 20 percent of the reps that the other guys get at a position, so it's hard on him," UT coach Derek Dooley said. "But it's very valuable for us because when we've got a little hole to plug, he's like the cork.

"He's got a kind of body type that can be a good physical guard. He's not a prototype tackle, but he's got enough range to hold up in space, he's smart and he's tough. ...

"A lot of guys are smart, but either they lack the power for guard or lack the range for tackle or lack the command for center. He's kind of a jack of all (trades)."

It might help Bullard develop personally if he could focus on just one position, though he's not pushing for it and seems keenly aware that his flexibility can be mutually beneficial.

A competitor by nature, Bullard obviously wants to play and contribute for the Vols, and if there are five options available instead of one, that gives him a better chance to do it. At the same time, it allows UT to find an easy solution when Ja'Wuan James gets sick or the guards struggle to establish themselves.

Regardless of the position, Bullard offers one-stop shopping to find a replacement.

"If the coaches at the end of the day when it's time to play Montana decide that I'm one of the top five guys, then of course I'll be in there," Bullard said. "If not or if somebody goes down, I'll be ready to go and contribute that way so we don't miss a beat. One thing I learned when I was at Notre Dame was the next man goes in, and I kind of bring that philosophy here. If somebody goes down, we don't miss a beat, go back in there and keep coming.

"I think I can find a home at any position. If my role ends up being backing up, I can find a home there. It's just my personality, I'm always fighting to be the best. You know, I don't want to be just in the top five — I want to be No. 1."

In terms of versatility, Bullard is already at the top of the list.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward.

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Comments » 33

AllVol1 writes:

I really hope his attitude is contagious.
Already one of my favorite Vols.

pingkr62 writes:

Ditto, we need players like him. You can't put a price on what he brings and adds to the offense. A true winner. G.B.O.

mdvol writes:

I really hope MY attitude is contagious.

VOLS start the season 4-0! (Georgia 0-2)

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Every time a guy's name comes up.........the guy seems to have the talent we need. More and more players seem to be responding to the need for whatever position is mentioned.

Hope the good news continues. The season is just about upon us and then who knows???????

BlueHound writes:

These "can do" attitudes will rub off on the other guys. I don't know how many games the Vols will win this year, but I really like this team. We may still be a year away from making a serious challenge to the incumbent SEC powers, but a sound foundation is being laid to build upon.

Down_The_Field writes:

this kid is driven and on a mission. he plays with passion for his mentor, his dad.

i look for alex to rock those who get in his way on saturday.

he's by far my favorite O-Lineman.

DocJas writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

OrangePsyched writes:

I was kinda hoping that Bullard would be center and that Stone could move to guard but I see the advantage of moving Bullard around. It's like having 3 players with his versatility. All these guys say the right things. This team has character and talent. If they perform this will be one of the most enjoyable years that we fans have had in a while. GBO!

RoadTrip writes:

I could not be more pleased with where the football program is today, considering how far it had fallen. When the going gets tough, character and focus win out. Our O-line has that locked up.

pingkr62 writes:

in response to OrangePsyched:

I was kinda hoping that Bullard would be center and that Stone could move to guard but I see the advantage of moving Bullard around. It's like having 3 players with his versatility. All these guys say the right things. This team has character and talent. If they perform this will be one of the most enjoyable years that we fans have had in a while. GBO!

I agree. Character and talent are a great asset. But to me, chemistry is everything, and I think that is building as well. G.B.O.!

UTbassdrummer writes:

Watching the video clips in the sidebar, everybody just sounds so very up and positive and motivated. I imagine we're looking at 7-8 wins, and our guys and coaches just seem to be really in control and constantly improving. Not bad for a bunch of unproven coaches and 3* recruits that this board tirelessly criticizes.

VOLliven2it writes:

Glad to have Mr. Bullard even if it came on a sad note for him personally. He will make a huge impact(no size joke there)and I look forward to seeing some holes he makes and believe Mr. Poole will hit them with a purpose.

jack_2222#231746 writes:

in response to Down_The_Field:

this kid is driven and on a mission. he plays with passion for his mentor, his dad.

i look for alex to rock those who get in his way on saturday.

he's by far my favorite O-Lineman.

and Daniel Hood is on the same kinda mission. Fun to watch, Dooley knows what he wants.

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

What a great motivational statement, "I don't want to be just in the top five — I want to be No. 1." I really hope that attitude becomes viral for the Vols! It is the kind of attitude we remembered prior to the last three years. Good Luck Bullard and keep that can do attitude. Go Vols!!!!!1

tennvolsman19651965 writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Once again, I will ask the question that you never answered last week. I am really trying to see what kind of possible satisfaction you could possibly get by coming onto this sight. I will remind you that the only ties that Tennessee has to USC is Malik! Why would a USC fan want to come onto a SEC Blog? It makes no sense! If I didnt have a job, and nothing better to do, I could perhaps talk myself into searching other teams websites. Kiffin is gone and there is no reason for you to be on here. I think you are funny as heck! My 16 year old son trolls alot. Not on football sites, but he will troll about to see if he can get someone mad. It is sad that that is the only way you can get your jollys. Maybe I can hook you up with my 16 year old son, and you two can troll together. The difference between you and him as that he will grow out of this phase when he reaches 17 or so. lol. GBO!

IndyVolFan writes:

His versatility will be a big plus to pro scouts. With the exception of the elite LT's, most teams in NFL expect their OL to play multiple positions (Colts esp.).

murrayvol writes:

He might make a good AD.

Punched_By_Lady_Luck writes:

in response to tennvolsman19651965:

Once again, I will ask the question that you never answered last week. I am really trying to see what kind of possible satisfaction you could possibly get by coming onto this sight. I will remind you that the only ties that Tennessee has to USC is Malik! Why would a USC fan want to come onto a SEC Blog? It makes no sense! If I didnt have a job, and nothing better to do, I could perhaps talk myself into searching other teams websites. Kiffin is gone and there is no reason for you to be on here. I think you are funny as heck! My 16 year old son trolls alot. Not on football sites, but he will troll about to see if he can get someone mad. It is sad that that is the only way you can get your jollys. Maybe I can hook you up with my 16 year old son, and you two can troll together. The difference between you and him as that he will grow out of this phase when he reaches 17 or so. lol. GBO!

Actually, isn't one of the secondary guys also a USC refugee?

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Looking forward to proving you wrong! While we may not win the SEC, we're good enough this year to upset one or two of the current powers and throw a little monkey wrench in the rankings. And if KY and Vandy couldn't beat us last year at our worst, no way they beat us this year!

If I were you, I'd spend more time worrying about Kiffin and his band of misfits than UT. I think we're finally starting to heal and will move up in the world of college football, while USC is only just beginning their slide to insignificance (30 scholarships in 3 years!). With so many scholarship limitations upon him, I'm sure you'll be happy with all the 5* thugs he's recruiting that will take off for the NFL after 2 years leaving SC with nothing left to work with.

FAIL ON!

Noogaorange writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hope you are not placing bets based on your projections....if so you will be broke at the end of the year!
GBO

GONAVY writes:

Alex Bullard by all acounts is a true man with character and zeal. He never blossomed at ND; the why's don't matter. He is a bit undersized, frame-wise not weight-wise, but I think his willingness to achieve will pay dividends for the OL...whether a starter or plug in. Still think the tell-all is Bray's performance against the meat of the SEC. This will be critical.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Punched_By_Lady_Luck:

Actually, isn't one of the secondary guys also a USC refugee?

Byron Moore

BigVolFaninSC writes:

Gotta love this team player! Your opportunity will come soon enough young man! GBO!

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

in response to tennvolsman19651965:

Once again, I will ask the question that you never answered last week. I am really trying to see what kind of possible satisfaction you could possibly get by coming onto this sight. I will remind you that the only ties that Tennessee has to USC is Malik! Why would a USC fan want to come onto a SEC Blog? It makes no sense! If I didnt have a job, and nothing better to do, I could perhaps talk myself into searching other teams websites. Kiffin is gone and there is no reason for you to be on here. I think you are funny as heck! My 16 year old son trolls alot. Not on football sites, but he will troll about to see if he can get someone mad. It is sad that that is the only way you can get your jollys. Maybe I can hook you up with my 16 year old son, and you two can troll together. The difference between you and him as that he will grow out of this phase when he reaches 17 or so. lol. GBO!

the Ghost of LK certainly can be obtuse, but occasionaly germane. They do seem to keep up with TN, which isn' thard to do in the Southern Cal area.

In reality there are a lot of Tennessee fans in the LA/San Deigo area... a lot of them, from military, to engineers, to affluent retirees, and there is the Clausen factor...Casey is still a UT man and is a very popular sports celebrity. When the 4 letter network runs adds they often run TN, and typically spin TN more postive than they do when they run highlights in the South.

Lst winter I was in Mission Veijo and saw the same thing at several small corporate convienient markets - the rack that sold hats had the Chargers and the Dodgers of course, and the Trojans and the Bruins of course...what surprised me was they all had Tennessee gear, no other college...not Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama...nobody but Tennessee. We are more popular/marketable there than many on here realize. Our long standing tradition of getting players out of the state is fantastic and the fact that beginning with UCLA 50 years ago, we have consistently played the Pac 10 (12).

We may not be paying attention to SC fans, but I promise you they are paying attention to us..and they see a lot of us out there day to day. my two cents.

GeneralNeylandsReturn writes:

This team is taking all the right steps...it's competition in conference is still fierce, but hopefully we gain some ground this year over last. I think we will, especially adapting to what Cheney can bring to the table offensively, barring a rash of key injuries.

Our non-conference schedule isn't tough, at least not on paper, but they still had better play hungry and hard... if they do, they will win those and pull an upset or two in conference; and this will be a great step forward for a team ravaged by a series of poor administrative decisions and bad luck.

givehim6 writes:

Mayby we can clone him and Stone, that way if UT has a injury throw out the year we have a replacement for any place on the line.

givehim6 writes:

trough,, sorry.

givehim6 writes:

Through, my bad,

voloffaith writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

AH man my foosball table be broke so we can't play...bummer huh dude? Yes I'm looking forward to being in Neyland Stadium when the Grizzlies come clawing into Ktown. In the mean time practice on young mister Bullard and company.

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I bet you carry that precious thesaurus in your breast pocket,,right behind the pocket protector.
Troll on.

CroKev writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

"anomalous penmanship"? I'm not sure if you know this but "penmanship" refers to your handwriting and has nothing to do with the content of what you're writing. If you were trying to point to the content of your writing, then you probably didn't want to use an adjective like "anomolous," which is so ambiguous that it can often mean "peculiar" or "abnormal." Now, if in fact you were trying to communicate to us obtuse Vols that what is on your mind is peculiar, then I would have to say that you succeeded...

kletusfleabiscuit writes:

in response to CroKev:

"anomalous penmanship"? I'm not sure if you know this but "penmanship" refers to your handwriting and has nothing to do with the content of what you're writing. If you were trying to point to the content of your writing, then you probably didn't want to use an adjective like "anomolous," which is so ambiguous that it can often mean "peculiar" or "abnormal." Now, if in fact you were trying to communicate to us obtuse Vols that what is on your mind is peculiar, then I would have to say that you succeeded...

hahah,,that is great. The best troll beating I have seen in a long time!! Thanks for the humor!

oscar285 writes:

in response to GhostOFLaneKiffinFan:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

GOLKF....I normally do not respond to any of your posts, just hit "suggest removal" but these two posts of yours have given me cause to comment. While I hate to admit it, all the points you have made, save one, seem to be right on target and I applaude your civility and objective point of view. The only thing, in my opinion, that may be subject to debate are the "tumultous times" you speak of for the UTFB program. I really believe these are now being put in the rear-view mirror and this season will produce a winning record rather than a losing one. The last couple of years the breaks went against us in close games and I think this year we sill start to see it go the other way. Time will tell but at least we are finally on the right path. Go Vols!

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