Determined Douglas talks about depression, decision to leave UT

Aaron Douglas during the first day of 2009 fall practice at the Haslam Field on the University of Tennessee campus.

Aaron Douglas during the first day of 2009 fall practice at the Haslam Field on the University of Tennessee campus.

Aaron Douglas will always remember the day the fog of depression began to break.

It was March 25, when he asked for his release from his Tennessee football scholarship.

“It took a lot of the pressure off my shoulders,” Douglas said Tuesday. “It relieved me of a lot of that stress and that depression that I was going through.”

Before that meeting with first-year UT coach Derek Dooley, there wasn’t much that made the 6-foot-6, 280-pound offensive lineman happy.

“It was really tough there for four, five, six weeks,” he said. “I had no desire to really do anything. It’s hard to explain. It’s just like your self-esteem bubble has been popped. I tried to handle it the best I could.”

The former Maryville High School star committed to UT in 2007 as a junior. Douglas declined overtures from most every school in the nation and signed with the Vols in 2008.

“Ever since I committed to Tennessee, I felt like I had this pretty good mapped-out plan of what my future was going to consist of,” Douglas said. “I felt like the plan just got flipped upside down. I wasn’t the happiest. I was down a lot.”

Douglas has decided to join former Maryville teammates Brent Burnette and Tyler Clendenen at Arizona Western College in Yuma.

With his class credits he obtained at UT, Douglas plans to graduate from Arizona Western in December and enroll at a Division I school in January. By transferring to a junior college, he can play this season.

“It’s going to be a good situation,” said Douglas, citing the importance of a fall routine in his recovery. “It’s going to propel me in the right direction.”

By most accounts, this is the first time Douglas has actually chosen a college for himself. He said he’s excited to go through the recruiting process — for the first time.

And this time he won’t be swayed by pressure to play for his favorite program, a nearby school, or his parents’ alma mater.

Douglas’ mother, Karla Horton Douglas, played basketball for the Lady Vols. His father, David Douglas, was a UT offensive lineman.

“Until I asked for my release I was real stressed out because I just thought about all the family history,” Aaron Douglas said. “I love the Vols. I’ve been to every home game since I was in third grade. It was the toughest decision in my life.”

Said David Douglas, “It’s finally his choice. It’s his decision to go out there and the next decision will be his choice. That’s so important. We never really gave him an opportunity to do what most recruits do.”

The Douglas family has been the center of attention since Dooley mandated that his only returning offensive lineman transfer to a school that is at least an eight-hour drive from Knoxville to gain his release, which would allow him to be placed on scholarship immediately.

David Douglas offered to exclude schools within the state, in the SEC and any school on UT’s schedule for the next three years. But Dooley, citing Aaron Douglas’ need to get away from East Tennessee, demanded more, which led to more public scrutiny.

“It’s been tough on all of us, but I’ll always love Tennessee. I know Karla feels the same way,” David Douglas said. “I feel like Coach Dooley is a good guy. I don’t agree with some of the stuff when he’s been popping off, running his mouth. That’s OK, I guess.

“I’ve contributed (money) since ’86, bought season tickets since ’86 and I’ll continue to do that and wish Tennessee nothing but the best.”

Still, David Douglas doesn’t understand the strict release stipulation.

“He didn’t know the whole big picture,” David Douglas said, adding that Aaron Douglas has been diagnosed with depression. “He walked into it and just decided he was having personal issues and if he’s going to leave, he’s going to send him a long ways away.

“Well, that’s not his decision. That should be the family’s decision.”

Aaron Douglas maintains leaving Knoxville was only small part of his decision to transfer.

“It’s not so much getting away from Knoxville is the reason I’m leaving,” Douglas said. “I’m going with my heart, really.”

His heart told him the same thing when former UT coach Phillip Fulmer, who was David Douglas’ position coach, was fired in 2008. Again, Aaron Douglas had trouble making a tough decision after consulting with friends and family. In retrospect, staying at UT paid off.

“It wasn’t too public but after Coach Fulmer got fired, I wanted to possibly transfer but I stuck around, which I’m glad I did,” Douglas said. “I had a lot of fun last year.

“ . . . When this next coaching change came along, I just felt like it may no longer be right for me here.”

Douglas not only had fun; he also blossomed into one of UT’s best young players while developing a strong relationship with former Vols offensive line coach James Cregg. With Cregg joining former UT coach Lane Kiffin’s staff at Southern California, it’s natural to assume that Douglas could end up with the Trojans.

“I’ve got some schools in mind but I want to live the recruiting process because I didn’t really do that in high school because I was so one-dimensional with UT,” Douglas said.

Cregg, however, will be a factor.

“He really means a lot to me,” Douglas said. “I feel like he put me in the position that I was in last year. I felt like he molded me from a first-year tackle into a player I saw succeeding down the road and possibly getting drafted. I just loved his coaching style.”

The scrutiny around Douglas has become personal at times.

Fans often guessed that drug use was the reason he was having personal problems, a charge Douglas denied.

Then, fans clamored to Douglas’ MySpace page where Douglas had posted audio of himself rapping.

“I like to write music,” Douglas said. “It started off with poetry. I’ve been writing poetry since I was 11 or 12-years-old.”

After six weeks off, Douglas has started working out again. He’s even got a job at a local manufacturing plant.

He maintains he’ll always root for UT and repeatedly said he has no ill will for any Vol.

But most of all, Douglas is just happy to be happy again.

“I’m feeling really good right now,” he said, “not only about my decision, but what’s ahead for me.”

Get Copyright Permissions © 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2010 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 216

NoSirRee writes:

Good for you man. Do what makes you happy for a change.

Bigger_Al writes:

Fare thee well, young Aaron. I loved you on our OL, but if you weren't happy after your 3rd coach, maybe time to see something else. The world is a big place.

reelvol writes:

I agree Dooley popped off a couple times on this and the 8 hour drive was amateurish. However, Aaron needs to understand about working through tough times and what commitment means. As David's former coach used to say – tough people last – tough times don't. I suspect Douglas would have thrived under the Dooley regime had he given it a chance.

Now can we please not talk about this anymore?

mercuryvol writes:

Good luck at USC.

DownTheField writes:

dooley's aloof and cavalier attitude has gone far enough... it won't work

Orangeblood13 writes:

there are so many holes in this story. Being from Maryville myself, I think this is big bunch of phooey. I haven't heard anything from Coach D negative about this situation and why not just say "I want to play for Half Montey and the Trojans, so I am going to wimp around and move."
Depressed? YOur playing for the UT VOls, on a full scholar, All American, and just because you have to man up and earn your spot again, you want to take you ball and go home. What a bunch of phooey.
This smells so much of Kiffin and crew, but nontheless, kids that want to be a VOL, are still here, bustin there tails.

newtonrail writes:

Unless Aaron has Clinical Depression, this still doesn't make sense. He's free to do what he wishes, but I think most Tennessee fans just want to understand it. I still don't. He didn't give Dooley or new staff a chance.

tdvol1989 writes:

I just read this article 2 times and I have absolutely no idea what it said or why it was printed.

Of all the things you can accuse Derek Dooley of, how could it be running his mouth? I only wish he would run his mouth.

I don't like to hack on young people making life decisions, but this whole story floats like a brick. He is a pretty talented athlete that plays a position of high need at an SEC School with family ties (needle scratch!). Coaching changes are a big deal, but that is NOT why he is leaving.

Why am I reminded of Ricky Williams?

volpreacher writes:

Yes, bet the farm on it. He will end up at USC.

rootin4volz writes:

Didn't William Shakespeare write a play about this called "Much Ado About Nothin'?" Methinks so.

Rocky_Mountain_VOL writes:

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
You Gotta Get It Right, While
You Got The Time
'Cause When You Close Your
Heart You Can't Close Your . . .Your
Mind!
And so on and so forth..

VolGrad writes:

True Depression is not cured by a mere change of location, scenery or job demands and responsibilities. There still seems to be more to this story than we've heard, and we've heard both sides talk about it now. Something doesn't quite jive here.

tdvol1989 writes:

Wasn't Ricky Williams depressed when he decided to dedicate his life to the pursuit of weed?

So, he missed Phil Fulmer so much that he loved playing for Lane Kiffin and cannot bear the thought of playing for another coach besides Phil...I mean Lane. Ganja!!!

VolGrad writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Ascribing to Biggunzz44's Propoganda Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, and May Complicate Pregnancy.

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to allVolinGA:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You know, you are RIGHT! I mean who takes the time to write this useless FOOWEE (hey you cannot say KRRAPP)?

Or...maybe Hooker is a genius. Who Doobie wants Doobie Douglas Doobie to Doobie come Doobie back Doobie now...Doobie? Maybe this is the best way to build confidence in Doobie...I mean Dooley for not begging Aaron - Rickey Williams - Douglas to stay...DOOBIE!!!!

Hillbilly_Orange writes:

Whatever...bye

RoadTrip writes:

If sombody has not already stated it -KNS, please run spell check - "decsion" in your caption.

Go west young man and enjoy your years with the Liar Surfer Dude after a year of JC ball. Maybe some east LA rappers can give you some pointers. But please - no potshots at CDD from the Douglas family- y'all didn't earn that and he doesn't deserve it.

volhome writes:

It's a shame that this is what some of the local kids that make it to the team decide to do. I'm afraid that this attitude of 'it's all about me' will unfairly be linked to other young men from the area and they will not even get a look come recruiting time. Aaron, you have done a disservice to the University and to the community. Please prove that everyone predicting the USC route is wrong, and that you have an ounce of class. Otherwise it will just be coming back to make a brownie in the pool you just peed in and got out of.

easleychuck writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

I just read this article 2 times and I have absolutely no idea what it said or why it was printed.

Of all the things you can accuse Derek Dooley of, how could it be running his mouth? I only wish he would run his mouth.

I don't like to hack on young people making life decisions, but this whole story floats like a brick. He is a pretty talented athlete that plays a position of high need at an SEC School with family ties (needle scratch!). Coaching changes are a big deal, but that is NOT why he is leaving.

Why am I reminded of Ricky Williams?

Agree with you that the real story is not here and maybe it's not our business but one of the few things in life that I can't stand is being bs'd.

Nice shot from the kid's dad to somehow make this about something that Coach Dooley did. This is all on the player. Only time will tell if he ever lives up to the old 'p' word. Potential is one of those things that can bite you in the backside. I still believe when this guy actually figures out his situation that it will be way too late and all that lost potential will really cause him to be 'depressed'.

The dad can 'hate' on Coach Dooley all he wants but Coach has only been here for 3+ months. The parents have been allowing this kind of junk to go on for 20 years.

PureOrange writes:

If he wanted to be here, he was welcome, but if he thinks so much of Kiffin and his bunch, then go and don't look back.

We don't have room for people who do not want to be here.

beartn#223846 writes:

<<dooley's aloof and cavalier attitude has gone far enough... it won't work>>

Aloof and cavalier aren't the first words to come to mind if I compare Dooley to Kiffin.

VOL03_NC writes:

Kids neer like to have to work.

UTfan4life2 writes:

Not really interested. If you dont' want to play for UT, we don't want you.

Colliervol writes:

in response to volsrock54:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ditto. In addition to the kid having issues, I smell tampering by Kibble and staff all over this one. Ethics? What ethics? We don't need no stinkin' ethics.

I hope this is the last story on this issue. If he ain't part of the program, I ain't interested.

TommyJack writes:

in response to Biggunzz44:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ZZ still = KNS

DancingOutlaw writes:

Kid was too big for his britches, found out he'd have to work for something instead of the usual routine of having it handed on a platter, and decided that wasn't for him. Now he takes that attitude he perfected in high school and with his homeboy kiffin to a new school with old maryville teammates? Sure fire way to cure what ails him.

SATCHMOE writes:

What if Kiffin had stayed in Knox,would Aaron's depression been such an issue that he would have took the same course.This is not depression this is a way out using depression as a cover.If you want to leave than just leave.Man up and say that you want to play for Kiffin instead of this depression route.Grow up! Your dad using Coach Dooley remarks was a way for him to save face.Looks like the fruit don't fall far from the tree

jcherrie#219531 (Inactive) writes:

If was depressed before wait until he gets to Yuma. YUCK!

tdvol1989 writes:

in response to SATCHMOE:

What if Kiffin had stayed in Knox,would Aaron's depression been such an issue that he would have took the same course.This is not depression this is a way out using depression as a cover.If you want to leave than just leave.Man up and say that you want to play for Kiffin instead of this depression route.Grow up! Your dad using Coach Dooley remarks was a way for him to save face.Looks like the fruit don't fall far from the tree

I think he really is depressed...that Dooley is anti-doobie. Or maybe he is still depressed that Fulmer got fired. Boo-freakity-hoo!

At least Douglas is still going to root for Tennessee. What a guy!!! He is SOOOO loyal.

golfballs03 writes:

malarkey

VolGrad writes:

in response to Jamestown17:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Fulmer was always known as a "player's coach" for good reason. All his former players are fiercely loyal to him including the ones from two years ago when he was let go. Who told you that players today prefer a Kiffin over a Fulmer? Did you hear what several of last year's juniors and seniors had to say about Kiffin after he left? Not exactly complimentary. What has changed? What is your source of information?

Fulmer was not a diciplinarian. That is why he did not do well without Cutcliffe. Dooley is definitely a disciplinarian. I don't understand the comparison- let's just say, I don't think you have anything to worry about if your worry is that Dooley is too much like Fulmer.

SATCHMOE writes:

in response to tdvol1989:

I think he really is depressed...that Dooley is anti-doobie. Or maybe he is still depressed that Fulmer got fired. Boo-freakity-hoo!

At least Douglas is still going to root for Tennessee. What a guy!!! He is SOOOO loyal.

I am glad that his father says he will root for Tennessee,but don't hang something on Coach Dooley if depreesion is the reason.

SoddyVol writes:

Douglas is still just a little immature. Perhaps he expected too much attention after having such a good year. It's too late now but I expect him to realize before long he has made a mistake.

1vavolfan writes:

Who hasn't been depressed by what is going on in the UT football program.It will be interesting to see how many games it takes to get the mob ready to Fire Dooley. Enjoy your nice cool seat Coach, it is going to get very hot.

flatrock writes:

--Maybe the smog of L.A. will help lift the fog
of depression;

--Maybe going thru the recruiting process
again will help him understand that Kiffin's
trash-talking and his rap music at practice is an extreme cover-up for a total lack of character...when football is over, what
life values do you have after hanging with
Kid Kiff and Coach Zero?

Maybe he can pick-up a little
funny money baby-sitting the
2 Kiffin daughters and their brother Knox(Smog)Kiffin;

Maybe A.D. could give his alter-ego,Bigggunzz,
a ride to Arizona (where you are only one joyride
traffic ticket away from a free vacation to
Mexico!).

GoUTVols3 writes:

in response to Jamestown17:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

not all kids, just most of the ones who get off when thinking about their coach's name popping up in a rap song, or the ones who like to rob people at gun point, or ride on hoods of cars drunk and resist arrest. Some kids have heart and class and wouldn't want to come near a lame kitten, see James Stone

chrisw2967 writes:

This story is nothing but bs , david can try and blame DD all he wants ,he knows that bs and is just trying to justify his sons actions.AD will end up at USC and spend his next 2 years on probation and drinking gin and juice with snoop.
let him go , AD is more of a distraction than a football player.

TitanandVolfan4life writes:

They can spin the BS any which way they want to but the FACT is that the real FAILURES in this entire thing are his parents.

His parents spoiled this kid rotten and instilled in him the useless, garbage, Socialist mentality thay he's OWED everything and does NOT have to work hard to EARN it.

WAKE UP people and GROW UP as well because you are NOT owed anything and if you want things and a better life then WORK for those things and EARN them !

I also agree with others that KiffSCUM & company have alot to do with this deal just like he PAID off Reggie Bush & family to get him to USuCk.

We need to keep a close eye on this deal and see how it plays out in the future.

This smells so badly that I can smell it all the way over in middle Tennessee.

GO BIG ORANGE !!!

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Later poetry buff. I don't get not wanting to play for your favorite school? This story is bizarre.

Canpflier writes:

Love the comments from all the real men, the XXL jock straps. Tell you what boys, let us know when one of you punks (who never played the game) are ready to tell David Douglas what a waste his son is TO HIS FACE. Would like to get the concessions for that one.

Douglas and his wife have done more for UT than the entire mouthy bunch of you, whether their son had ever played a single down here or not. Of course, this is the same group of rot who will want Dooley fired by November.

CroKev writes:

Commenting on the kid's or his parents' motivation is way out of line folks. I don't understand this depression stuff but I have seen its effect on people whom you'd think would have nothing to be depressed about. Anyway, I'll leave that for the experts.
What Aaron might not realize is how all this is going to play during the NFL draft in a couple of years. We've just read about the arsenal of questions being asked by NFL scouts before draft day. It seems that how one does in those interviews is as important as their 40-yard dash time and their bench press. Aaron could be an All-American at USC his senior year but his position in the draft is going to plummet because of this.

txsvol#372416 writes:

in response to Jamestown17:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You need to realize that clinical depression, or major depressive disorder, involves neurotransmitters in the brain (serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine--it is associated in particular with one or two short alleles of the 5-HTT gene). While I don't wish to speculate about the cause of Aaron's depression, it very possibly could be that he should be far enough away that a contributing cause, such as a pathologic relationship with a girlfriend, can be minimized. Thus, not knowing the situation, it is mean-spirited to blame CDD for 'stringent' conditions. I would guess that Aaron will have a good response to one of the SSRI drugs, with minimal side effects. He has only my prayers and best wishes. SAVol

Halls3 writes:

You guys absolutely amaze me. If Douglas isn't happy he has every right to leave. I know how forgetful some fans are, since apparently everyone hated Kiffin all along though they ate up every word, but Douglas about left when Fulmer was fired & had to be convinced by his dad to stick it out. He never liked Kiffin or that staff & I doubt he goes to USC. I believe he's gonna try to move back to tight end & play with Burnette somewhere eventually b/c that's what he came to UT to do, play TE.

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

Hooker, you have just reached an all-time low! Didn't know you would be able to go any lower, but you just did. That story is so FOS, I mean seriously Dave? Really? Really? Really!! You have offically outdone BigGunzz, and that is saying plenty!

Opportunity knocks and you come running. You got a chance to run a story that built up the Liar and put down CDD and you could not wait to do it!
Please go with them. You will be with who you want to be and where you want to be. You will be very busy writing articles on the NCAA sanctions against USC. Enough is enough. Ban me or whatever you want to do KNS, I don't GAS!

Don't worry, we will get the true story from another source. CDD did nothing wrong. AD might indeed have depression, but we know the real reason he left. Anyone who has done what all he has done would have a reason to be depressed. Then, he realized that he was not top dog anymore once the Liar left and that is the end of the story period. Thanks for raising my blood pressure too!

Canpflier writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Oh yeah... another tuff guy! Still waiting for the morons like this to Volunteer to say it to any of the Douglas family faces. On second thought, stay down in your hole in Mom's basement, smoking Pall Malls, looking for someone to taunt on the Internet. What a punk!

Canpflier writes:

in response to Jamestown17:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Boy, don't you know that's gonna just tear them apart! They have to go through life without your respect! How can they possibly endure it??

Canpflier writes:

in response to volsrock54:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mr. Douglas? Yeah, not so much there Inspector. I'm quite a few years older than Douglas. But of course I'm sure your support of the University is vast, offering you the clearance to take shots at a real Vol. As in, he actually played football here? And you have done ... What? That's what I thought. Go on now, get on back to the basement.

DannyVol writes:

in response to Jamestown17:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Amen. However, there has to be more to the story...

DannyVol writes:

in response to Canpflier:

Mr. Douglas? Yeah, not so much there Inspector. I'm quite a few years older than Douglas. But of course I'm sure your support of the University is vast, offering you the clearance to take shots at a real Vol. As in, he actually played football here? And you have done ... What? That's what I thought. Go on now, get on back to the basement.

Canpflier,

Volsrock is right. It's a BS excuse. There is no reason to get so bent out of shape. If the boy didn't want to be here, the h with him -- regardless of who his parents are. He sounds like a spoiled brat. If you are that emotionally involved, I'm sure Arizona Western season tickets are readily available.

DannyVol writes:

in response to Canpflier:

Love the comments from all the real men, the XXL jock straps. Tell you what boys, let us know when one of you punks (who never played the game) are ready to tell David Douglas what a waste his son is TO HIS FACE. Would like to get the concessions for that one.

Douglas and his wife have done more for UT than the entire mouthy bunch of you, whether their son had ever played a single down here or not. Of course, this is the same group of rot who will want Dooley fired by November.

Here's the deal: The boy quit. Just like Stephens, he quit. I may not have played college football, but during those years and well beyond I wasn't playing games - I was in the military where quitting gets people killed. In all my years I only saw one man lay down and quit -- and he was on the next chopper to Loserville. So, let me tell you, sir -- There's dedication and committment and there's selfishness and quitting. This kid belongs in the latter group and he betrayed his teammates.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features