Former UT football player Aaron Douglas found dead

Police in Fernandina Beach (Fla.) say cause of death is pending examination

Tennessee tackle Aaron Douglas (78) prepares to block Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble (50) on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Photo by Wade Payne

Tennessee tackle Aaron Douglas (78) prepares to block Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble (50) on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009 at Neyland Stadium.

Obviously, my prayers go out to David and Karla. I don't think anybody can ever really understand the pain any parents endure with the loss of a child unless they've lived through it. I'm praying for everybody involved.

Derek Dooley

Archived video: Lane Kiffin praises RT Aaron Douglas

Former Maryville High School and University of Tennessee football standout Aaron Douglas was found dead Thursday morning in Florida at the age of 21.

According to a report from the Fernandina Beach (Fla.) Police Department, officers responded to a call of a deceased male at 8:13 a.m., a man who was later identified as Douglas. The cause of death is pending examination.

"The victim reportedly left his friends last night after dinner to go by taxi cab to Jacksonville," the release said. "'While en route he was apparently contacted by two local women and invited to a party. … (Douglas) arrived at the party by cab at approximately 11:00 (to) 11:30 p.m. and was seen at the residence as late as 2:00 a.m.

"When the male resident and others woke this morning they found the victim on the second floor balcony apparently deceased. The police and EMS were called and the victim was pronounced dead at the scene."

Douglas, a star with the Maryville High Rebels and a former freshman All-American with the Vols in 2009 at offensive tackle, elected to transfer from UT after the coaching change from Lane Kiffin to Derek Dooley before his sophomore season.

He played for a year at Arizona Western College, then signed in December with Southeastern Conference rival University of Alabama, where he just had finished spring practice, leaving the camp as a candidate for playing time this fall with the Crimson Tide.

"It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family," Alabama head football coach Nick Saban said in a statement. "Aaron was a part of our family and always will be a part of our family at Alabama. He was an outstanding young man, and we were excited about what he had accomplished as a player and a person in the short time he was with us.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents, David and Karla, who are two of the best people you will ever meet, and the love they had for their son was something very special. As a father, there is nothing we can say to describe the loss of a son. Our Alabama family has sustained a tragic loss and the Alabama family is grieving that loss. We will be here to support Aaron's family in any way we can."

Douglas posted that he was in Jacksonville, Fla., on his Facebook account late on Tuesday. His last message came on Twitter around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday: "Who's still up right now?!?"

While that was his final update, social networks were buzzing with an outpouring of support for him and his family, who were in the spotlight early last year as Douglas wrestled with his decision to leave UT and dealt with depression.

Even after he left the Vols program, thrived at junior college and signed with Alabama, Douglas continued to deal with issues away from the game, including a DUI charge he picked up in Maryville on Christmas Eve that led to a 48-hour jail sentence.

"I heard the horrible news about Aaron this morning," Kiffin, current University of Southern California head football coach, said in a statement to the News Sentinel. "It's so tragic and sad. Aaron had a huge heart and was such a fabulous young man.

"He will be dearly missed. My thoughts and sympathies go out to his parents … and all his family and friends."

The plan for his career certainly wasn't what he expected after Douglas signed with UT in 2007 as a junior with Maryville, following in the footsteps of his parents — David, a former football player, and Karla, a former Lady Vols basketball player.

Douglas blossomed on the offensive line as a freshman under Kiffin after signing originally with Phillip Fulmer, and the possibility of another coaching transition never seemed to appeal to him in early 2010.

He later admitted to battling depression after parting ways with UT and Dooley, who stipulated Douglas transfer at least eight hours away from home as part of the separation from the program.

Douglas fulfilled his end of the deal at Arizona Western College and then signed with Alabama, a school that would have given him two games against the Vols before his collegiate career ended.

Dooley had stressed numerous times that he held nothing personal against Douglas or his family.

"Obviously, my prayers go out to David and Karla," Dooley said by phone. "I don't think anybody can ever really understand the pain any parents endure with the loss of a child unless they've lived through it.

"I'm praying for everybody involved, Aaron's family, his friends and his teammates. Any time a young life is lost, it's a sad, sad situation."

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

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Comments » 162

xliveitup writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

LJS1984 writes:

in response to xliveitup:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Probably not the time or place for that. This is sad no matter how you look at it.

bebecerveza writes:

in response to xliveitup:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Really? Jackhole

crice#253038 writes:

RIP AARON!!! YOU WILL BE MISSED!!!

CaliVol2009 writes:

in response to xliveitup:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

you disgust me. A former vol is dead and you say go big orange?

VOLinMAHWAH writes:

Tragic . . . truly tragic!!

allvolinatlanta writes:

Way too young, a very sad day!

orangeman1 writes:

God bless his family and friends.

CoverOrange writes:

Deepest sympathies to David and Karla.

PepperGrinder (Inactive) writes:

Terrible news. Condolences to the family.

VFLBryan writes:

Wow! Douglas family, i'm truly shaken by this news. prayers are with you all!

ODA751 writes:

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Douglas family. God bless.

Homermoosevols writes:

Sad day. God be with you son!

theoldbear writes:

This young man had his troubles, problems, indications of substance abuse, while he was still in high school. I am saddened that no one was able to help him, to reach him, to get him on the right path. My condolences to his family. While Aaron Douglas was not a Vol For Life, may he be remembered in death as a Vol freshman All American, and nothing less.

JohnnyU writes:

Terrible, sad, tragic news. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

chrisw2967 writes:

My thoughts and Prayers are with David and Karla with this tragic lost.

Ironcity writes:

Just sad. My prayers go out to the family.The kid was a lost soul. Very unfortunate,

ddayvolsfan#238252 writes:

It is a truly sad when a person so young passes. May God bless this family and hold them close during this period of mourning.

FearlessFreep writes:

Wow. I knew Karla in college. My deepest sympathies to the Douglas family.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to chrisw2967:

My thoughts and Prayers are with David and Karla with this tragic lost.

I second that. This is very sad. I pray for his family and friends. I pray for Bama and UT during this tragic loss.

volinlouisiana writes:

This is truly sickening. Sad beyond words.

sjackson#227599 writes:

This makes me sick to my stomach - what a tragedy.

MothershipChip writes:

Terrible tragedy, rest in peace young man.

SWVA_RockyTopVol writes:

Thoughts and prayers to the family, friends, and University. What a tragedy. Sad to see any kid this young have their life cut short...what a bright a future he had

volboy81 writes:

A very sad day for David, Karla and their family. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you during this very difficult time. The tornadoes in TN and AL and now Aaron's death help to keep football in prospective. God bless the Douglas family.

DenverVol writes:

Wow! Very sad news. My deepest sympathies go out to the Douglas family.

rockytopvol writes:

Alot of things are more important than football and prayers for the family is one of them right now. He was great at UT, sad to see him go but even more sadened by this, God Bless the Family!

BigBadVol writes:

I'm speechless. Very sad. RIP young man.

mtowntim writes:

Very sad tragic news. Thoughts and prayers to the family.

SWVA_RockyTopVol writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

dgentryvol#212691 writes:

in response to UTVOL22:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree about the classless idiots who will not have the guts to identify themselves.

mtowntim writes:

in response to UTVOL22:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Totally agree....please keep it within reason or don't post.

dgentryvol#212691 writes:

in response to xliveitup:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It embarasses me that such a classless person as you calls yourself a TN fan.

SWVA_RockyTopVol writes:

in response to UTVOL22:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree, if you're going to post then at least have a little respect but what are you going to do if he puts all that info?? Go find him and beat him down? I doubt it very seriously but why stoupe to his level with threats??

BillyVol writes:

It is a very sad ending for this young man. I feel very sorry for the family, and I wish I could say something that could help them at this time. Lets all pray for them please.

volinlouisiana writes:

He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to xliveitup:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You should be stomped.

GerryOP writes:

God bless and God speed Arron Douglas. RIP.

mtowntim writes:

in response to mempuss:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for your understanding.

arkyvol writes:

this has little to do with football. a young man is dead long before his time. his family is in my thoughts and prayers.

GerryOP writes:

in response to UTVOL22:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Suggest you folks stick to the topic ... it is a tragedy.

25vol writes:

A SAD DAY FOR EVERYBODY.MAY GOD BE WITH HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS.OBVIOUSLY A TROUBLED YOUNG MAN .

JSamson7 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

You should be stomped.

Rich, I agree. You & I have talked about this before & you know I'm pretty close to Aaron as well as his family. I'd be more than happy to do the stomping myself, but what good would that do? I sincerely hope this guy & the rest of these coward a-- posters that talked smack about Aaron realize he was a good dude & that one day they too will have to meet their maker to answer for the negative things they said & did... RIP ADoug, you will definitely be missed

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to mempuss:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, and that's part of the problem, it is America. If we have freedom of speech, we should have freedom of a## whip as well IMO. That would stop all the nonsense. But under our current laws, one can slander someone's family, even their kids. Then when you pound them, you go to jail.

In this situation, this is someone's kid who is now dead and the stupid comments need to be taken elsewhere.PERIOD!

Halls3 writes:

RIP AD. Some of you are absolutely classless & distasteful but I wouldn't expect anything less from cowardly trolls who hide behind a computer screen. I would hate to know I was so pety that I would spew garbage & hatred about someone who did nothing wrong but play football.

Volbil009 writes:

very sad, much prayers for the family and friends

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say all agree this is tragic for himself and his family and all of college sports. Witch Doctor say thoughts and prayers.
Bones never lie.
RIP

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to JSamson7:

Rich, I agree. You & I have talked about this before & you know I'm pretty close to Aaron as well as his family. I'd be more than happy to do the stomping myself, but what good would that do? I sincerely hope this guy & the rest of these coward a-- posters that talked smack about Aaron realize he was a good dude & that one day they too will have to meet their maker to answer for the negative things they said & did... RIP ADoug, you will definitely be missed

Yeah man, I left you a message on the Baggett Chaney thread. Sorry for your loss man, truly sorry. As they say, the good die young. AD was a good dude who got mixed up in some bad things, some people can't understand that. Hell, I raised more cane than him at 21, but the lord saw fit that I make it through. What people need to realize is that when it's your time it's your time. It was AD's time, doesn't matter how it happened IMO.

Mobbdeep4life writes:

This is tragic. I saw a thread on volnation.com this morning and I had hoped it was only a rumor. I know this is said all the time but he was far too young.
My prayers go out to his family.

JSamson7 writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Yeah man, I left you a message on the Baggett Chaney thread. Sorry for your loss man, truly sorry. As they say, the good die young. AD was a good dude who got mixed up in some bad things, some people can't understand that. Hell, I raised more cane than him at 21, but the lord saw fit that I make it through. What people need to realize is that when it's your time it's your time. It was AD's time, doesn't matter how it happened IMO.

I saw that Rich, thanks... I'm hoping for the best, but I suspect the worst. Ultimately, as much as I tried to help steer him away from things he decided to follow the path many of us do at that age. Last I talked to him though he was doing better & getting ready for the upcoming season as well as dodging tornadoes.. Lol, about the only thing I can smile about now & kind of find ironic is that he was dodging tornadoes a few weeks back & he came up beating Tornadoes down back home.. :'(

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