Alex Bullard gets hardship waiver to play this fall

Tennessee offensive lineman Alex Bullard attacked spring practice as if he were guaranteed to see the field in 2011.

The NCAA notified the Notre Dame transfer Thursday that all his hard work would be rewarded.

Bullard, a Franklin native who transferred to UT this past winter after the death of his father, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to play in 2011, UT confirmed Thursday. The sophomore who was impressive from start to finish during the Vols’ 15 spring practices can now be considered a legitimate threat to steal snaps, or even find a starting job, on UT’s young offensive line.

A student-athlete typically must sit out a season when transferring within Division I. But in cases such as Bullard’s, where a player’s decision to transfer is motivated more by hardship than it is playing time, exceptions can be made.

“Just officially got the news,” Bullard wrote on his Twitter account Thursday evening. “Id like to give a shout out to the NCAA for allowing me to be eligible for this up coming season.”

Vols’ coaches didn’t quite know what they’d get this spring from Bullard, who is currently a walk-on, but he was thrust into action with the first team, as right tackle Ja’Wuan James was sidelined with mononucleosis. Bullard, who redshirted the 2009 season and saw action in three games last season at Notre Dame, also received plenty of work at center, where he currently sits second on the depth chart behind James Stone.

For his efforts, Bullard received the Harvey Robinson Award for being the biggest surprise on offense this spring.

“He has a lot of pride,” offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said near the end of spring practice. “He works very hard. He has talent. It's all brand new to him.

“He will progress. He's been a pleasant surprise for us.”

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 41

BuckettVolz writes:

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

mercuryvol writes:

Great news for the OL.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Best news we've received from the NCAA in a long time.

givehim6 writes:

This is great news! I knew it would happen, just when ever it took the NCAA to act.

RoadTrip writes:

Excellent. Alex will be a great addition to the O-line.

tree_em_smokey writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What he said!!!!! GBO!!!

britt writes:

Thats a good way to start the summer

ChrisUTvol writes:

Fantastic News!!!!!!!!!

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

Great news ! Offensive line depth looks good for the next few years. Now we need to add size and depth on the defensive side of the line.

cwbytruckers writes:

just a thought. we have a ton of big offensive linemen and defensive linemen that will either see little or no action. cant they bring their big rears to the hoops court and take up some space where we really need it. LOL

voloffaith writes:

in response to tree_em_smokey:

What he said!!!!! GBO!!!

Ray Charles sang," tell me what you say!" So I say all the above as the young man came back home to be closer after fathers passing. Best wishes and congrats on the nc2A gettin' it right this time.

RickmanVol writes:

in response to voloffaith:

Ray Charles sang," tell me what you say!" So I say all the above as the young man came back home to be closer after fathers passing. Best wishes and congrats on the nc2A gettin' it right this time.

Dammmn strait

kcbigorngX writes:

This is OUTSTANDING news for Alex, but the cynic in me will never trust the NCAA.

Could this be a slight of hand attempt at fairness that allows them to drop the hammer on the Vol football program?

I hope they are not throwing a bone to Smokey today in order to feel better about kicking him tomorrow.

CoverOrange writes:

The NCAA is clearing the boards in anticipation of getting a letter of inquiry from the feds. They are looking down the bazooka of a BCS anti-trust suit. Pearl, et al, may be the next beneficiary.

Huttdawg100 writes:

I wonder if he earns a starting spot by the start of the season?

V4L Class of 2005

UTSportsFanatic writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Get it right, now, Precious. He is a 5 star signee of Notre Dame, when coming out of high school in 2009.

jrobi124 writes:

this is great for the soon to be best OL in the sec. look this kid had a awful lost but he thanks ncaa that shows the kind of man he is

tree_em_smokey writes:

Out of high school he was #7 OG, per scout!

Oenoboy writes:

Good get for the Vols...sad circumstances for him and his family.

TennVol01 writes:

NCAA does have some common sense folks working for them. Welcome Alex Bullard to Big Orange Country.

TKO writes:

I wish the young man great success and thoughts and prayers for him and his family.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

While true, 13 of those 33 are redshirts. Which means they actually belong with the 2009 class. Bullard is of he 2010 class of which there is only 20 or so.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Mama_Calls_Me_Precious:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That is more than I can say about you.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Yes indeed, very good news.

As for the "Precious troll" whenever there is any news here, we will have 99% decent, true fans, and the 1% trolls just like this one.

Make that probably 5% when you throw in the other trolls..........we know who they are.

Good news for US with this young man.

VOLHEAD writes:

It all starts with the line. We need big,strong boys who can block, and the fact he's from Tennessee makes it even better.

Go Vols!

BigVolFaninSC writes:

More concrete for the foundation!.....GBO!

OrangePride writes:

Oh baby! This is great news..both for Alex and the Vols. I have said it many times...as those two lines go, so goes our season. We've got the skill players to make things happen if we can get big boys to get it done up front. I'm a happy camper today. GO VOLS!

Volunatic writes:

I will again give props to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly for showing so much class in granting Alex Bullard a release from his scholarship.
Glad to have you here, Alex!

Mtnbiker writes:

been awhile since i had a tear creep into the corner of my eye with a big smile on my face. So glad that Alex got the waiver and he can be a huge force for our OL this fall.

msinva writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I will again give props to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly for showing so much class in granting Alex Bullard a release from his scholarship.
Glad to have you here, Alex!

Couldn't agree more

Outdated writes:

Spring practice reports indicate Alex is very much needed..
Looks like Dooley is building a competitive team quicker than could reasonably be expected..

VOL1972 writes:

in response to UTSportsFanatic:

Get it right, now, Precious. He is a 5 star signee of Notre Dame, when coming out of high school in 2009.

You do realize Precious is a KY fan who has nothing better to do that post on this board -- don't you?

Voluvr writes:

Big.

ChrisUTvol writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

+1 Good one Tweet.

VOLliven2it writes:

Did I really read that the NCAA did the right thing regarding Alex Bullard? I think I did. Good going, now Alex we are looking for big things out of you in 2011. GO VOLS!

HtownVol writes:

That O-Line just looks so darn good!

It may not be the best right now but I see them being very very good by years end. 12 months ago it was the worst part of the team and now it is headed towards being the strength of the team.

Give credit to the staff for recruiting a area of need. UT now is deep with size and talent. Experience is still thin but that is the one weakness that is sure to be fixed over time.

GO VOLS!

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

I'm mostly very happy for this fine young man.

It's good news for our team but a sad way to get a great kid and good football player.

CONGRATS Alex and my condolences and prayers for your family.

Be very proud to be a Vol for life, work hard, make good choices and make everyone proud of you in every way.

God bless you and your family young man.

VFL...GO BIG ORANGE!!!

RashaadSalabeb writes:

This is good news! Depth is what we need. I remember this kid from high school....he's good. He'll be competing for a starting spot very soon. He won't have to switch hands to center the ball either. This is a fine pick up. It's about time we get some good news. Dooley appears to be the right guy for our program. He's surronded himself with good coaches and staff, too.

Go Vols!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Tweetdriver63:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

As I recall, the NCAA limits a school to 85 players on scholarship at a time, with a limit of 25 scholarships to give in a given year. There is, however, no rule that says the available scholarships must be divided up among the classes in a specific proportion. Since I have heard that, thanks to attrition of various types, UT only has about 15 seniors on scholarship, there are enough scholarships available to cover a larger-than-average sophomore class. This current sophomore class includes redshirts, former walk-ons, JC transfers, and the like which is WHY it is larger than usual. I would not be surprised if Bullard was on scholarship by the time the fall term starts.

Tennesseeato writes:

Transfers from I-A to I-A can't be on a scholly for a year unless released by the original school. My understanding is that Bullard was released by ND, so he should be eligible for a scholarship, provided UT has 1 to give him. I don't think UT does.

A I-A school can have no more than 85 scholarship football players at any given moment in time. This isn't an issue for UT. Subject to that 85 overall limit, however, a I-A school can have no more than 25 new scholarships awarded in a year. That 25-per-year cap is why UT has been light on the overall cap. A kid's class doesn't matter at all, it's when his scholarship kicks-in. The NCAA will allow a scholarship to "count forward" if the player enrolls mid-term (i.e. for the spring semester).

I think Bullard enrolled in January, so UT could either count him forward (2011 class) or back (2010 class) if there are available scholarships in either class. I think UT has a full class projected for 2011, but one never knows if a scholarship will come available due to attrition. I think, but I could be wrong, UT was maxed-out for 2010 with the early enrollees we counted forward in that class. Those scholarships were for the 2010-2011 academic year, so while there may be kids no longer on the team, those scholarships are still accounted for.

I suspect Bullard will be on scholarship in the fall, but that will depend on the status of the signees. It has nothing to do with his ability, it's a numbers issue.

Orange_Scooter writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

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