When spring practice begins March 10, redshirt freshman tight end Aaron Douglas will be making something of a familiar move.
Although Douglas, a two-time Class 4A Mr. Football lineman of year from Maryville High School, has spent most of his career as a tight end, he’s following his father’s footsteps into a spot at offensive tackle when Tennessee begins spring drills on March 10.
UT’s coaches informed Douglas of the move Wednesday, and his father, David Douglas, said his son welcomed the opportunity.
“From the excitement he had in his voice yesterday, if he gets on the field and gets some playing time and helps UT win, it’s sure fine by me,” Douglas’ father, David, said on the News Sentinel’s radio show, The Sports Page, Thursday morning.
David Douglas, who lettered at Tennessee in 1984-85, went on to play five NFL seasons with the New England Patriots and Cincinnati Bengals.
Aaron Douglas has added more than 30 pounds to his 6-foot-7 frame since arriving on campus last summer and has been going through offseason conditioning workouts at about 280 pounds, his father said. Adding weight shouldn’t be a problem.
“Another 10, 20 pounds to be around 300, but what do I know about what (UT’s coaches) want and what they expect,” David Douglas said.
While offensive coordinator at Southern California, UT coach Lane Kiffin favored leaner, more athletic linemen in a zone blocking scheme. Douglas, a standout basketball player as well at Maryville, seems to fit that mold.
The move should also help UT with a shortage of offensive tackles.
The Vols lose Ramon Foster, a two-year starter at guard and tackle, as well as reserves Ramone Johnson and Preston Bailey. Johnson was dismissed from the team, while the News Sentinel reported earlier this month that Bailey had left the team for undisclosed reasons.
Those two players were considered among the stronger candidates to start opposite senior left tackle Chris Scott.
Douglas isn’t the only tight end in for a change of scenery this spring.
Brandon Warren, a former Class 2A Mr. Football winner at Alcoa, will begin practice at wide receiver after playing tight end last season, his first since leaving Florida State after the 2006 season.
Warren was a freshman All-American with the Seminoles, but UT struggled to incorporate him in its offense last season.
“Brandon’s going to be a bigger receiver that has the ability to be physical with those smaller corners,” quarterbacks coach David Reaves said, also on The Sports Page. “He has excellent feet, good change of direction. I think he can do some things, (create) mismatch problems on the edge.
“I know coach (Lane Kiffin) has always had bigger receivers that can go up and get the football. I know that is the direction that he wanted to go with Brandon, and we look forward to Brandon learning this offense. And hopefully we can get the ball in Brandon’s hands.”
Warren, who started one game at tight end, finished with 10 catches for 85 yards and no touchdowns last season. However, UT returns two players who started a combined 14 games last season at tight end in rising senior Brad Cottam and junior Luke Stocker.
Stocker led all tight ends with 13 catches for 139 yards last season.
Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.