Phillip Fulmer recalls Aaron Douglas' signing

Phillip Fulmer in a photo taken Jan. 6, 2010.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Phillip Fulmer in a photo taken Jan. 6, 2010.

Former Maryville High School and University of Tennessee football player Aaron Douglas, left, prepares to block Georgia linebacker Darryl Gamble during the Vols' game against the Bulldogs on Oct. 10, 2009, at Neyland Stadium.

The scholarship was offered before birth.

Considering the bloodlines of the future child, Phillip Fulmer had a strong hunch he couldn't go wrong.

Once Aaron Douglas finally arrived and the former Tennessee coach had 17 years to watch him grow up, he knew he'd been right all along.

"When David and Karla (Douglas) got married I sent them a letter, obviously never having a clue that 17 years after he was born I would be signing their son," Fulmer said Thursday by phone. "Well, maybe not no clue, you did have a Lady Vol and a Vol getting married. But I told them their first-born son would have a scholarship to Tennessee.

"They kept it, and it was really a neat thing all those years later seeing the letter in recruiting Aaron. It was one of those special friendships that you have that come around in coaching and being around good people."

He never actually had the chance to coach Douglas when he developed into a freshman All-American after redshirting during Fulmer's last season, and the seemingly preordained career with the Vols didn't last when yet another coaching transition prompted a change of scenery for Douglas.

But the specifics of a football career that began with piles of accolades at Maryville High School, lots of promise at UT and ultimately ended after spring practice at Alabama faded into the background when Douglas was found dead on a second-story balcony in Florida on Thursday morning. A memorial service is scheduled for tonight, but the focus has already returned to reflections of Douglas away from the game, his good-natured spirit, playfulness and loyalty that had helped turn a difficult journey on the field into a large reserve of teammates and coaches who had a chance to get to know him the way Fulmer had for so long.

"It was almost like an uncle recruiting him because David and I and the Douglas family, we're all close and good friends," Fulmer said. "It's just a wonderful family to be involved with, and it really wasn't necessarily a recruiting process as much as it was just affirmation that he was coming to Tennessee. I just hate the way that it happened for him there. It's terribly disturbing and almost unfair to those group of guys. I hated it.

"Aaron was a good person and a good son and a good grandson, he cared about people and he was polite and all those things that you'd like to think of your own son or grandson. I mean, he was a very polite young man, and with his friends he was just a typical teenager."

Those qualities endeared him to his teammates at UT, Arizona Western College and Alabama regardless of how much time was spent at each spot, and based on the deluge of well wishes and memories that were posted on social networks across the country, it seemed as if he'd been at each of them forever.

In the end, the jerseys he wore or the program he was expected to contribute to in the fall hardly seemed to matter. The big kid inside the uniform, the one Fulmer had the foresight to offer a roster spot to before he was even born, was all that mattered.

"AD was a loving kid, and whatever people thought about him from the outside looking in, if you got to talk to him and got to know him a little bit, he was a loyal friend in the sense that he was there to support you," former UT teammate Nick Reveiz said. "I've known Aaron for a long time, I remember meeting him for the first time at Maryville, and it's a terrible situation.

"In these situations I think there's going to be a lot of questions and confusion, but I think the main thing to take away is to remember the great moments that we had with Aaron. He was a good kid, loving guy, and we're going to miss him."

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 » 36

rabidvol1998 writes:

Great story about the letter before birth.

cltvol writes:

"It was almost like an uncle recruiting him because David and I and the Douglas family, we're all close and good friends," Fulmer said. "It's just a wonderful family to be involved with, and it really wasn't necessarily a recruiting process as much as it was just affirmation that he was coming to Tennessee. I just hate the way that it happened for him there. It's terribly disturbing and almost unfair to those group of guys. I hated it.

- can cpf talk about anything w/out bringing it back to his 'unfair exit'?

easleychuck writes:

Sad that this life ended the way it did.

BillsBrother writes:

in response to cltvol:

"It was almost like an uncle recruiting him because David and I and the Douglas family, we're all close and good friends," Fulmer said. "It's just a wonderful family to be involved with, and it really wasn't necessarily a recruiting process as much as it was just affirmation that he was coming to Tennessee. I just hate the way that it happened for him there. It's terribly disturbing and almost unfair to those group of guys. I hated it.

- can cpf talk about anything w/out bringing it back to his 'unfair exit'?

I didn't read it that way at all.

It is "almost unfair" for a college kid to have three different coaches in three years, wouldn't you agree?

al2476 writes:

in response to cltvol:

"It was almost like an uncle recruiting him because David and I and the Douglas family, we're all close and good friends," Fulmer said. "It's just a wonderful family to be involved with, and it really wasn't necessarily a recruiting process as much as it was just affirmation that he was coming to Tennessee. I just hate the way that it happened for him there. It's terribly disturbing and almost unfair to those group of guys. I hated it.

- can cpf talk about anything w/out bringing it back to his 'unfair exit'?

Read the article again. It does not say one word about Fulmer's departure. Anyway Coach Fulmer was honoring the life of Aaron. Your distain for a great coach overshadows what he is saying about the young athlete. Get over it and stick with the fact that a young former football player lost his life.

pappyq writes:

in response to 02champs#209256:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

big change when he got to UT? from what? don't blame this on UT

iowavol writes:

in response to cltvol:

"It was almost like an uncle recruiting him because David and I and the Douglas family, we're all close and good friends," Fulmer said. "It's just a wonderful family to be involved with, and it really wasn't necessarily a recruiting process as much as it was just affirmation that he was coming to Tennessee. I just hate the way that it happened for him there. It's terribly disturbing and almost unfair to those group of guys. I hated it.

- can cpf talk about anything w/out bringing it back to his 'unfair exit'?

STFU

posivol writes:

in response to cltvol:

"It was almost like an uncle recruiting him because David and I and the Douglas family, we're all close and good friends," Fulmer said. "It's just a wonderful family to be involved with, and it really wasn't necessarily a recruiting process as much as it was just affirmation that he was coming to Tennessee. I just hate the way that it happened for him there. It's terribly disturbing and almost unfair to those group of guys. I hated it.

- can cpf talk about anything w/out bringing it back to his 'unfair exit'?

early morning fool,to even pretend cpf didnt care about the kids is just plumb dumb.

cltvol writes:

in response to BillsBrother:

I didn't read it that way at all.

It is "almost unfair" for a college kid to have three different coaches in three years, wouldn't you agree?

concur, but doesn't override my point about CF's perspective

cltvol writes:

in response to posivol:

early morning fool,to even pretend cpf didnt care about the kids is just plumb dumb.

didn't say or imply he didn't care about the kids. Don't doubt any of his words, including his fairness comments. He just brings up the departure too much.

HtownVol writes:

Very sad. I wish his family all the best. It must be hard, I cant imagine. I obviously never knew Aaron but every time I read about his death my eyes tear up.
From everything I have read Aaron was such a nice and caring guy.
Pat Summit can go on and offer the sister.
Thank you Douglas family for everything your family has dont for UT.
GO VOLS!

RatherBeDrivingaTitleist writes:

in response to cltvol:

didn't say or imply he didn't care about the kids. Don't doubt any of his words, including his fairness comments. He just brings up the departure too much.

You need to read his comments again. He said nothing about his departure. He simply said he hated what happened to AD at UT.

coach799 writes:

cpf will always be associated with UT so get over your hatred. He is a VFL.

GO VOLS!!

ALL_VOL75 writes:

in response to cltvol:

didn't say or imply he didn't care about the kids. Don't doubt any of his words, including his fairness comments. He just brings up the departure too much.

You spend 17yrs at one job and then get fired...may leave a bad taste in your mouth as well. CPF has a right to be a little pissed about his exit...and Im sure he feels like Aarons story may have been a bit different, if his own story had had a different ending. The letter gives a glimpse of the kind of Coach/person CPF was/is. He didnt always get it right...but he sure didnt always get it wrong either.

I thought this was a very well written piece.

Thoughts and prayers to all who were a part of Aarons life.

He is a VOL. And thats how the story ends for me. RIP

brokendownoldvol writes:

in response to pappyq:

big change when he got to UT? from what? don't blame this on UT

I blame Kiffin. He pushed rap phooey on them and even played it at practice.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

KNS/Ward: first paragraph - "Aaron Douglass, left," I don't think Aaron would care being depicted as cpf.

nostradamus writes:

The bottom line is that a father and mother have lost their son. Anything about football or coaching or college is insignificant. I grew up with the Douglas family (David and Steve) in Spring City, TN. I hate this for them and pray that God will help them through it.

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to cltvol:

didn't say or imply he didn't care about the kids. Don't doubt any of his words, including his fairness comments. He just brings up the departure too much.

It seems you are the one that keeps spewing hate on Fulmer.Fulmer is gone and for most of us he is mostly forgotten.Why do you have so much hate toward him?

Fulmer was only about 8 or so victories away from being the greatest coach in Tennessee history,that is from a won loss perspective.He did let the program slide and was released as he should have been. People like you always remember what someone did for you lately,not what some one did for you for years.You need to get a little love of God in your heart.

What have you ever done for U.T.? Have you been to Nebob for a game? Have you been or are you currently a season ticket holder? How much, if anything have you donated to the sports program?

I believe you to be a loud mouth idiot.You remind me so much of another poster that call herself Voldoll.You two should meet somewhere for Coffee.the two of you could have a wonderful time together.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to coach799:

cpf will always be associated with UT so get over your hatred. He is a VFL.

GO VOLS!!

For the past two years I have been dismayed by the hatred spewed on this site toward Phillip Fulmer. I know the guy loved UT, and wanted UT to win more than anything. I keep wondering if maybe I missed the story about him molesting children or giving aid to al Qaeda, because otherwise the hatred makes no sense.

GOJO writes:

in response to cltvol:

didn't say or imply he didn't care about the kids. Don't doubt any of his words, including his fairness comments. He just brings up the departure too much.

*****

Probably not as much as you do; you bring it up when it is not even there.

Vol43 writes:

Good God Almighty, will you please get off cpf's back already. I know what he's saying and so do you. Anytime Fulmer's name is brought up it generates the same old phooey. Ok let's dig up old bones. Fulmer overstayed his time. We all know the story and he was unceremoniously kicked to the curb. I'm sorry it happened that way, but that's the way it was so don't you think it's time we get over it? Have you ever been laidoff or fired from a job and the timing sucked? Probably. I read the article, and yes, it talked about multiple coaching changes and the resulting negative impact on the players, but it anit a perfect world we live in. And that's all I have to say about that. Give cpf a break.

Vol43 writes:

Boy aint I the DA. I was supporting citvol. We all know who cpf is.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

I'm trying to figure out who's the bigger loser. The Fulmer bashers or the one's who were bashing AD for his actions/lifestyle in his last days. I'd bet $1,000 on the spot that if one you punks talked that trash to David Douglas that he'd make you wish it were your last day.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

RIP AD.

murrayvol writes:

in response to BillsBrother:

I didn't read it that way at all.

It is "almost unfair" for a college kid to have three different coaches in three years, wouldn't you agree?

For many, if not most, it will always boil down to what camp you're in BB.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

It seems you are the one that keeps spewing hate on Fulmer.Fulmer is gone and for most of us he is mostly forgotten.Why do you have so much hate toward him?

Fulmer was only about 8 or so victories away from being the greatest coach in Tennessee history,that is from a won loss perspective.He did let the program slide and was released as he should have been. People like you always remember what someone did for you lately,not what some one did for you for years.You need to get a little love of God in your heart.

What have you ever done for U.T.? Have you been to Nebob for a game? Have you been or are you currently a season ticket holder? How much, if anything have you donated to the sports program?

I believe you to be a loud mouth idiot.You remind me so much of another poster that call herself Voldoll.You two should meet somewhere for Coffee.the two of you could have a wonderful time together.

Uh, He was 21 victories shy of Neyland. Still not bad, but for a self proclaimed genious like yourself, you should know this stuff. Neyland might be considered the best defensive mind in College Football history. Sorry, but IMO Phil had a ways to go before being close to Neyland.

And I would greatly appreciate it again if you would NEVER use the words Nebob Stadium again. Unless you want to be forever labeled as a troll. It's tasteless and disrespectful.

And although it may sound as if I'm bashing Fulmer, I'm not. He's just no General Neyland. I'm actually DISGUSTED that Lloyd Carr is being inducted into the Hall of Fame but no Fulmer. On the other hand, the state of Tennessee might not be loaded with HS football talent, but it's produced it's fair share of GREAT coaches.

1)Lloyd Carr
2)John Cooper
3)Phillip Fulmer
4)Johnny Majors
5)Steve Spurrier
6)Bobby Dodd
7)Ken Sparks

in no certain order.

And I HAVE to mention
1)George Quarels
2)Gary Rankin

Say what you want, yeah I know they just coach HS,but these 2 will be recognized as legendary coaches NATIONALLY when they hang it up.

Vol43 writes:

in response to Vol43:

Boy aint I the DA. I was supporting citvol. We all know who cpf is.

Why not give 'em both a break? (Talking to self).

abnerPeabody writes:

I have never said I was a Genious.Never even hinted at such.Only you seem to be the Genious you are talking about.I also stated that from a win loss prespective.Newland never played teams as strong as some that Fulmer did.If he had,I'm not sure his record would have been a good as it was.

Why in heck do some of you want to post things that make you look small and ignorant? We all have our opinion of a subject and can have a wrong opinion.Because our opinions are different does not make either one of us right or wrong.Lighten up.

As for being labeled a troll,I don't understand that stupid insult at all.I have never said anything neg about Tennessee in my life unless Nebob is being neg.

I would bet you I have given more money,been to more football games and held season tickets longer than you have been alive. Have you ever been invited to watch any football practices,invited to break bread with some of the past teams,been invited to the dressing room after some games,and allowed to participate in the Vol Walk allowed on the field for warm ups? I HAVE. Lighten up just a little.Ulcers are hard to get rid of. So is ignorance.

Vol43 writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

I have never said I was a Genious.Never even hinted at such.Only you seem to be the Genious you are talking about.I also stated that from a win loss prespective.Newland never played teams as strong as some that Fulmer did.If he had,I'm not sure his record would have been a good as it was.

Why in heck do some of you want to post things that make you look small and ignorant? We all have our opinion of a subject and can have a wrong opinion.Because our opinions are different does not make either one of us right or wrong.Lighten up.

As for being labeled a troll,I don't understand that stupid insult at all.I have never said anything neg about Tennessee in my life unless Nebob is being neg.

I would bet you I have given more money,been to more football games and held season tickets longer than you have been alive. Have you ever been invited to watch any football practices,invited to break bread with some of the past teams,been invited to the dressing room after some games,and allowed to participate in the Vol Walk allowed on the field for warm ups? I HAVE. Lighten up just a little.Ulcers are hard to get rid of. So is ignorance.

Hate to do this to you, but who the heck is Newland? You had it coming. LOL

abnerPeabody writes:

in response to Vol43:

Hate to do this to you, but who the heck is Newland? You had it coming. LOL

What the W is going on with my spelling? That's what happens when someone gets under the skin.I Do know better.Thanks for the corection.Newland is a street name in my sub division.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

I have never said I was a Genious.Never even hinted at such.Only you seem to be the Genious you are talking about.I also stated that from a win loss prespective.Newland never played teams as strong as some that Fulmer did.If he had,I'm not sure his record would have been a good as it was.

Why in heck do some of you want to post things that make you look small and ignorant? We all have our opinion of a subject and can have a wrong opinion.Because our opinions are different does not make either one of us right or wrong.Lighten up.

As for being labeled a troll,I don't understand that stupid insult at all.I have never said anything neg about Tennessee in my life unless Nebob is being neg.

I would bet you I have given more money,been to more football games and held season tickets longer than you have been alive. Have you ever been invited to watch any football practices,invited to break bread with some of the past teams,been invited to the dressing room after some games,and allowed to participate in the Vol Walk allowed on the field for warm ups? I HAVE. Lighten up just a little.Ulcers are hard to get rid of. So is ignorance.

What does that have to do with anything? I just simply stated that you were off by a few wins. And Nebob, yeah that's a bit tacky, rather insulting IMO. But you are correct, they are just opinions.

Lets say for instance you are simply twice my age. Having tickets as old as me doesn't mean flip. It's quite comical how some folks on here act like donating more money makes them a better fan,or if someone doesn't go to college at UT they can't be a real fan. And you don't have to say you are a genius, it's glaringly obvious in every post you bless us with. As for ignorance, what the heck is Newland?

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

What the W is going on with my spelling? That's what happens when someone gets under the skin.I Do know better.Thanks for the corection.Newland is a street name in my sub division.

Well if it gets under your skin, stop addressing others in the same exact fashion. Yeah, I might be rough around the edges at times, but if someone makes a good post, tell them good post. Hell do something. I've been on here for years. You don't post much, but when you do it's always in a negative fashion degrading others. Never have you agreed with someone. Just a bit odd IMO.

cltvol writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

I have never said I was a Genious.Never even hinted at such.Only you seem to be the Genious you are talking about.I also stated that from a win loss prespective.Newland never played teams as strong as some that Fulmer did.If he had,I'm not sure his record would have been a good as it was.

Why in heck do some of you want to post things that make you look small and ignorant? We all have our opinion of a subject and can have a wrong opinion.Because our opinions are different does not make either one of us right or wrong.Lighten up.

As for being labeled a troll,I don't understand that stupid insult at all.I have never said anything neg about Tennessee in my life unless Nebob is being neg.

I would bet you I have given more money,been to more football games and held season tickets longer than you have been alive. Have you ever been invited to watch any football practices,invited to break bread with some of the past teams,been invited to the dressing room after some games,and allowed to participate in the Vol Walk allowed on the field for warm ups? I HAVE. Lighten up just a little.Ulcers are hard to get rid of. So is ignorance.

does spending money on a college football program qualify you as an expert on anything except how to spend money on a college football program?

whiskeyman writes:

Fulmer for A.D and that's showing my Orange Blood! RLW, Class of '74

Oyeeeblood writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Uh, He was 21 victories shy of Neyland. Still not bad, but for a self proclaimed genious like yourself, you should know this stuff. Neyland might be considered the best defensive mind in College Football history. Sorry, but IMO Phil had a ways to go before being close to Neyland.

And I would greatly appreciate it again if you would NEVER use the words Nebob Stadium again. Unless you want to be forever labeled as a troll. It's tasteless and disrespectful.

And although it may sound as if I'm bashing Fulmer, I'm not. He's just no General Neyland. I'm actually DISGUSTED that Lloyd Carr is being inducted into the Hall of Fame but no Fulmer. On the other hand, the state of Tennessee might not be loaded with HS football talent, but it's produced it's fair share of GREAT coaches.

1)Lloyd Carr
2)John Cooper
3)Phillip Fulmer
4)Johnny Majors
5)Steve Spurrier
6)Bobby Dodd
7)Ken Sparks

in no certain order.

And I HAVE to mention
1)George Quarels
2)Gary Rankin

Say what you want, yeah I know they just coach HS,but these 2 will be recognized as legendary coaches NATIONALLY when they hang it up.

Don't forget about Mack and Watson Brown

rudy123 writes:

in response to abnerPeabody:

It seems you are the one that keeps spewing hate on Fulmer.Fulmer is gone and for most of us he is mostly forgotten.Why do you have so much hate toward him?

Fulmer was only about 8 or so victories away from being the greatest coach in Tennessee history,that is from a won loss perspective.He did let the program slide and was released as he should have been. People like you always remember what someone did for you lately,not what some one did for you for years.You need to get a little love of God in your heart.

What have you ever done for U.T.? Have you been to Nebob for a game? Have you been or are you currently a season ticket holder? How much, if anything have you donated to the sports program?

I believe you to be a loud mouth idiot.You remind me so much of another poster that call herself Voldoll.You two should meet somewhere for Coffee.the two of you could have a wonderful time together.

I think the straw that broke Fulmer's back was Cutcliffe leaving and Fulmer hiring Clawson!!!!
Had the offense been better and we won 8, rather than 5 games, Fulmer would have been around at least one more year.
We lost to UCLA by 3 in O.T. If I remember correctly, that was due to a missed Lincoln kick.
We lost to Auburn by 2. Then we lost to Wyoming by 6, with Stephens as q.b.
An 8 win season and a bowl game appearance, and Fulmer is likely back for another season.

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