Notre Dame lineman Alex Bullard transferring to Tennessee after death of father

Alex Bullard in 2008.

Photo by Billy Kingsley

Alex Bullard in 2008.

Alex Bullard feels like he could play anywhere.

Given a painful loss in his family, right now the offensive lineman wants that to be closer to home, so he's packing up at Notre Dame and heading to Tennessee.

Already an emphasis in recruiting, the Vols added another substantial piece to their rebuilding project on the offensive line with the Franklin native's decision to transfer from the Fighting Irish back to his home state after the death of his father last year.

Pending the approval of a hardship waiver from the NCAA, the sophomore could be eligible to play right away for UT, will enroll in classes next week on campus and should provide yet another boost to an offensive line that's seemingly growing every day.

"That was tough for me when my dad passed, and given those circumstances, I had already thought about possibly transferring right then and there," Bullard said by phone on Friday. "Me and my family just decided that coming back home and being closer to my mom and my family was probably the best thing to do."

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly agreed with that sentiment, and in a statement released by that program on Friday announced that Bullard had been released from his scholarship.

Bullard, a former four-star recruit out of Brentwood Academy listed at 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, was expected to contribute for the Irish next season as they go through their own rebuilding process. Now he's a part of one with the Vols, who've clearly made it a point to start with the offensive line.

"Due to the declining health and eventual passing of (his father) Louis Bullard, the last 12 months have been very challenging for Alex and his family," Kelly said in the release. "Throughout this very trying time, (they) have continued to exude the utmost class and dignity and I wish Alex and his family all the best in the future and will keep them in my thoughts. Alex is a great young man that I enjoyed working with this year and fully understand and support his desires to attend a school closer to his mother and sister."

That opportunity was clearly the deciding factor for Bullard, though the chance to compete for a job right away at a program he's followed his whole life certainly didn't hurt any. Bullard played in just three games last year for Notre Dame after redshirting in 2009, but the tackle was thought to be a big part of the future for the program before he elected to leave.

And with UT making a concerted effort to fortify an offensive front that entered last season with no starting experience of significance at any position, Bullard should slide into the two-deep at a minimum this spring.

The Vols leaned heavily on true freshmen James Stone and Ja'Wuan James in Derek Dooley's first season, and fellow newcomer Zach Fulton also impressed the coaching staff when thrown in with sophomore tackle Dallas Thomas and redshirt freshman Jer'Quari Schofield. UT is losing versatile senior Jarrod Shaw, but it's already claimed four commitments from linemen for this year's recruiting class after adding Marcus Jackson's pledge this week at the Under Armour All-American Game.

Throw in the addition of Bullard, who would have three years of eligibility if he wins his appeal, and the Vols could be creating a line talented and deep enough to generate some envy.

"I mean, that really didn't weigh into the decision because I feel like I can play anywhere in the country," Bullard said. "I just have a lot of support there, I know a lot of people up there and, I mean, I grew up a Vol fan all my life.

"I just felt comfortable and I felt like that would make me the most happy."

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

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

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Comments » 198

West_TN_VOL77 writes:

Hate the circumstances, but glad he's coming. Freshman, soph, junior....does anyone know?

govols_1 writes:

welcome bullard and sorry to hear about your father ....lost mine in 2001 keep your head up ...GBO!!!!!

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

Brian Kelley appears to have class. Welcome home Mr. Bullard. We hope this strengthens your family after a difficult loss.

cgbtn writes:

I offer my prayers for Alex and his family. We should also note the class with which Coach Kelly handled the matter. His response was greatly different than that of FSU a couple of years ago.

clvolfan writes:

Welcome home young man,and God bless you and your family.

cgbtn writes:

in response to West_TN_VOL77:

Hate the circumstances, but glad he's coming. Freshman, soph, junior....does anyone know?

Article says soph

govols_1 writes:

in response to West_TN_VOL77:

Hate the circumstances, but glad he's coming. Freshman, soph, junior....does anyone know?

Pending the approval of a hardship waiver from the NCAA, the sophomore could be eligible to play right away for UT, will enroll in classes next week on campus and should provide yet another boost to an offensive line that's seemingly growing every day.

toldyouthatspsuckedfor3years writes:

Sophmore if he gets the hardship. Should at least help with depth if nothing else.

tree_em_smokey writes:

I'm sorry for your loss Mr. Bullard. I hope the transition from In to TN will be easy and I know you will get a warm welcome by the great people of east TN. Glad to have you aboard Alex! GBO!!

rockytop4ever writes:

Sorry for your loss Alex. I hope the NCAA grants him the hardship. Welcome home. Go Vols!

Vol86 writes:

If ncaa release him he has three years and can play rigth of way(hardship). If not sit out and has two. I think.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Welcome back big man.

I think he'll be a soph next year with three to play three.

govols_1 writes:

in response to cgbtn:

I offer my prayers for Alex and his family. We should also note the class with which Coach Kelly handled the matter. His response was greatly different than that of FSU a couple of years ago.

good post

utfpmd writes:

Nothing but classy posts and no trolls so far.
Nice.

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

He signed in Feb 2009, so unless he redshirted, doesn't that mean he has two years left?

Welcome young man!

tennezz writes:

Try him @ DT he has 4.9 speed! Does anyone have coach Brian Kelley`s email address?

VolunteerLifer writes:

with 4.9 speed, one wonders why he isn't a DT. In any case, we need help on both lines, and this is a nice surprise get.

does anyone know if this addition has to be counted against our recruit tally for 2011?

orangecountyvols writes:

utfpmd,

And I echo your thoughts too my friend. A parent is more important than any sport, and yes we are fortunate he would want to be closer to home and has selected U T to finish his collegiate career, under these circumstances.

Alex, all the best wishes for you and your family.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to ghost_of_which_doctor:

He signed in Feb 2009, so unless he redshirted, doesn't that mean he has two years left?

Welcome young man!

He redshirted. 3 years to play and can play next year if hardship approved. Was a Rivals 4 star out of HS. Classy act by Kelly.

Brillovol writes:

I hate the reason that he's switching schools, but love the outcome for our team. A player matching a position of need; splendid!

IsItOnMe writes:

Did this kid see any action at ND?

ghost_of_which_doctor (Inactive) writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

He redshirted. 3 years to play and can play next year if hardship approved. Was a Rivals 4 star out of HS. Classy act by Kelly.

Excellent! Thanks for the info!

HtownVol writes:

It is not the way any of us want to get a player but all Vol fans will fully support Alex and are very happy that he is at home now where he belongs.

It is amazing how 5 months ago UT had a O-Line that was scary bad.

As we stand right now UT can start a 4 star recruit (stars dont matter to me) at each position on the line. 3 UA All-Americans on the Line from the last 2 UA games. And Kerbyson (sp) and Posey have the size to make a impact also.

Richardson would be the icing on the cake. With Richardson I have no doubt that UT will have one of the best O-Lines in the nation in a year, and we have some very good depth which is as inportant since it seems we always lose 2 or 3 O-Linemen each season.

The Tennessee Offense is looking so good for the next 4 to 5 years at least.

QB - Bray then Worley

WR - Hunter, D Rogers, Arnett, Dallas

TE - Rivera, Downs (sp), the AZ transfer

RB- Poole, Oku, Neal, Williams, Smith

FB - Fugate

O-Line - Schofield, Stone, J James, Jackson, Posey, Kerbyson (sp), Crowder, Richardosn (fingers crossed), and company

I will not go over D today but I am very confident that Wilcox is getting the players he needs and we will see a good improvement next season. I really like the DB situation next year compared to what we had this season. Coleman, Martin and Randolph all look very good. I also havent heard lately but didnt Dixon get his mess fixed and should be at UT next year?

Once again...Where is Jerod Askew??

The future is very bright in Big Orange Country!

GO VOLS!!!!!

Mobbdeep4life writes:

Sorry to hear about the loss of his father. I can only imagine how difficult this past season was for him.
I may be wrong but I heard this again during the Notre Dame\Miami game that the Irish do not redshirt players. I've heard commentators during several Notre Dame games mention that also. So if for some reason he didn't receive a waiver he would still have two years to play.

volinlouisiana writes:

I see this as an Aaron Douglas upgrade. Sure he was Fresh All American, but his off the field issues and this guy's good character make this a transfer for transfer trade that I'm happy to have.

volinlouisiana writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I never, ever hoped Tebow would get injured. You, on the other hand... Just kidding, but you are annoying, though.

Biggie writes:

Coach Kelly is a good man.

tennezz writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not Tebow...You!

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Welcome to Rocky Top, Mr.Bullard..Glad to have you as a Vol!!!..Sorry to hear about your dad..He will be very proud of you as you finish your collegiate career with UT.

tennezz writes:

Try him @ DT he has 4.9 speed!

LiveFaith writes:

No joy in losing a dad, that's for sure. Good luck young man.

That being said, this is huge get for us. Kid has good athleticism. Kinda the type Kiffin wanted, quicker types. 4.9 in the 40 is impressive for an OL. Three years of eligibility, and hopefully playing in 11'.

My question here is, will this affect the Richardson decision, considering this and Jackson's verbal? Believe it or not, our OL could actually have young talent logjammed for a few years.

Boy, how things can change quickly.

PF_Tigers_Fan writes:

Glad to have Bullard. Very sorry to learn of his father's passing. Welcome to the Big Orange family. Go Vols and Tigers.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

I started to say how nice it was to not have any trolls on here making smarta@@ remarks, but I would have spoken too soon..Good grief, z, can't just show class for once in your life..Not the time or the place to be acting like like this.

smokeyvol1 writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

A young mans father has passed away and he wants to be near his family, and all you want to do is make this about Florida!! Amazing!! You are a real tool that will try anyway you can to make any article about your school. SIMPLY PATHETIC!

Mr. Bullard, we welcome you with open arms and hope you will feel at home with your new team.

volzcrushm writes:

Best wishes on a smooth transition to the VOLS!! ALSO, I see where 5 star Markeith Ambles is leaving so.cal......going the juco route for a year and then?????

NashvillePreds writes:

Tough circumstances

Welcome to the Big Orange Family

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to smokeyvol1:

A young mans father has passed away and he wants to be near his family, and all you want to do is make this about Florida!! Amazing!! You are a real tool that will try anyway you can to make any article about your school. SIMPLY PATHETIC!

Mr. Bullard, we welcome you with open arms and hope you will feel at home with your new team.

Exactly!!! Tebow has absolutely nothing to do with this article, but he decides to turn it into exactly that...I think this is all-time low and as you said SIMPLY PATHETIC!!!

TommyJack writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Not the time or place, cubicle boy.

crappieking writes:

Welcome Mr. Bullard. Sorry to hear about your loss, but were glad you're here. The Trolls can go to HE!!.

duke.moses#299699 writes:

in response to tennezz:

Try him @ DT he has 4.9 speed!

And he's still angry about losing his Dad. DT where he can take out agression on QB's and RB's!!
Welcome to B O country Mr. Bullard!!

easleychuck writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Only wish is that trollies develop arthritis of the hands to go along with the runs that affect their brains. Nothing for a troll to see here, so just move along.

SunshineVol writes:

Who says you can never go home? 4.9 speed... I can see the running backs turning the outside corner already.

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

in response to back2z1:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just when we thought you couldn't post something more stupid.....

McMinnVol writes:

Very sorry to hear about the loss of his dad.

I kept a copy of the top 20 prospects in Tennessee. According to an article by Dave Hooker on Dec. 24 2008, Bullard was listed as the number 3 prospect from Tenn. that year.

icebearsvictory writes:

Notre Dame has a lot more class than Alabama or Florida. Go Vols and thank you Brian Kelly for releasing him.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Funny how things come full circle.I wanted this kid BAD out of HS. REALLY hate to hear about the kid's Dad. Honestly, Tennessee is where he should have been anyway. Fulmer dropped the ball on this one too. Losing recruiting battles like this are a MAJOR reason Fulmer is no longer here. GREAT, GREAT to see Alex coming home.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to West_TN_VOL77:

Hate the circumstances, but glad he's coming. Freshman, soph, junior....does anyone know?

article says he's a sophomore.

madmaxvol writes:

Just thinking about a 19-20 year old kid losing his father. It is a very impressionable time in a young man's life. Hope that he and his family find peace and comfort going forward.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

http://rivals.yahoo.com/notredame/foo...

Nice offer list out of HS.

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