Vols no longer 'bubble school' for 4-star

InsideTennessee keeps you update on all the latest football recruiting news. Scroll down to read what has a four-star "confused" after an official visit to Tennessee.

Not long ago, Scout four-star offensive tackle Alex Bookser dubbed Tennessee a "bubble" school.

With proximity to home a key in the Pittsburgh native's recruitment, the more than 7-hour haul to Knoxville was a major disadvantage for the Vols.

Not after this weekend.

Bookser began his visitation schedule with a trip to Tennessee and came away very impressed.

"It just confused me even more now on where I want to go because it was just such a good official visit," Bookser told IT. "So, I can't have it on the bubble any longer. It's got to be a place where I have to take time to consider. It was just that good of a visit.

"I feel like if I came down here it wouldn't be too much of a problem. Hanging out with some of the players on the team and hanging out with the coaches, it's really not too different from Pittsburgh. "

While Bookser said he enjoyed "everything" about his trip, spending time with Tennessee offensive line coach Don Mahoney tops his list of favorites.

"Hanging out with coach Mahoney was just awesome. If not my favorite, he's one of my favorite coaches recruiting me," Bookser said. "He's just a really good guy."

When asked what it is about Mahoney that separates him from other recruiters, Bookser could only chuckle.

"I mean, you may not get it, but I would say its because he's from Western Pennsylvania," Bookser said. "It's a type of person that if you're from Western Pennsylvania, it's just somebody you get along with. He's just really easy to get along with, you know? He's just really down to earth and relatable."

And it wasn't just Bookser picking up on the hometown vibes.

Bookser was joined by his parents. They gave their stamp of approval.

"My mom was asking, she was just all over the place with questions," Bookser told IT. "They were really impressed. …And my dad said it, he was just like this is a place you seriously need to look at and consider. They both hit it off with coach Mahoney because he's just so relatable."

Other than a "family feel" and staying close to home, the opportunity for early playing time is a key for Bookser.

Tennessee coaches made Bookser well aware that the Vols are likely loosing all of its starting offensive line after the season.

"They were telling me it's a young team, a developing team and I can come in and make an impact," Bookser said. "That's the thing with a lot of different schools I'm considering – places that I can make an impact and potentially start in one or two seasons."

Tennessee is the only Southeastern Conference school Bookser is considering. It's another advantage for the Vols, as he deemed it the best conference in the land.

"It definitely has something to do with it. I wanted to have at least one SEC school that I was really going to consider," Bookser said. "…If you want to play against the best competition and see if you can go to the NFL, this is where you got to be playing."

Having watched several football games at Penn State and the Steelers' Heinz Field as a youngster, Bookser said the Neyland Stadium atmosphere trumps both easily.

"The Vol Walk, I'd heard about it, but that was awesome and they were telling me it wasn't as big as it usually is. It blew my mind," he said. "But getting down into the stadium… that may be the loudest I've ever heard a stadium at the beginning there. The atmosphere was just completely insane."

Bookser spent time before kickoff talking to several Tennessee commits on the sideline. He was impressed by their dedication to the Vols.

"Talking with other recruits who were committed down here is the other thing I was really looking for," he said. "And they seem like guys who are pretty committed to bringing Tennessee to where it was in the past and changing this program."

Bookser will officially visit Penn State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State.

He was also considering Michigan State, but contact has slowed with the Spartans. Bookser views it as a positive after his trip to Tennessee.

"At this point, it's getting too late and maybe it's a good thing that I've lost contact with them," Bookser told IT. "I don't know what I'd do if I went to Michigan State and liked it as much as Tennessee. I just have no idea where I'm going."

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