Hundreds mourn former UT football player Aaron Douglas

Dooley, Fulmer, Saban among those paying respects

Friends and family gather outside the Cokesbury Center of Cokesbury United Methodist Church after a Celebration of Life service held for Aaron Douglas on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Photo by Saul Young

Friends and family gather outside the Cokesbury Center of Cokesbury United Methodist Church after a Celebration of Life service held for Aaron Douglas on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Friends and family gather outside the Cokesbury Center of Cokesbury United Methodist Church after a Celebration of Life service held for Aaron Douglas on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Photo by Saul Young

Friends and family gather outside the Cokesbury Center of Cokesbury United Methodist Church after a Celebration of Life service held for Aaron Douglas on Sunday, May 15, 2011.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that University of Tennessee head football coach Derek Dooley attended the Aaron Douglas memorial service.

Some 2,000 people gathered Sunday to celebrate the life of former Maryville High School and University of Tennessee football standout Aaron Douglas.

A freshman All-America offensive tackle with the Vols in 2009, Douglas was found dead Thursday morning in Fernandina Beach, Fla. He was 21. The cause of death is pending.

Douglas played for one season at UT before transferring to Arizona Western College, where he played his sophomore year. The 6-foot-7, 275-pound junior was set to return this year to the Southeastern Conference with the University of Alabama, where he had just finished spring practice.

Among those attending the memorial service at Cokesbury United Methodist Church in West Knoxville were Alabama head coach Nick Saban and former UT coaches Phillip Fulmer and Johnny Majors.

"He was a big guy and that was intimidating, but once you got past that he had a big heart," Erica Linginfelter, Douglas' former Maryville High classmate and athletic trainer, said outside the standing-room-only service Sunday.

Douglas' cousin Scott Gann of Scottsboro, Ala., said the turnout at Sunday's celebration of life was a testament to the family member who loved to play backyard football as a boy and who, as a man, received near-constant attention on and off the field for his playing.

"He was a fan favorite," Gann said.

Sign a guest book for Aaron Douglas.

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Comments » 35

eprahm (Inactive) writes:

It is my desire he is with the Lord now. In the end that is what counts. RIP.

shipperman#280095 writes:

Rest in Peace young man. A side note, how many people could get Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer in the same room?

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

Rest in Peace young man. A side note, how many people could get Johnny Majors and Phil Fulmer in the same room?

That's what I was thinking, shipperman. Also, that neither Fulmer, Majors, nor Dooley ever coached him...so where was Kiffin?

Such a tragedy. I certainly hope that it makes all of his friends think twice before getting in certain situations, if that was truly the cause. Prayers and blessings to the Douglas family.

beartn#223846 writes:

That's what I was thinking, shipperman. Also, that neither Fulmer, Majors, nor Dooley ever coached him...so where was Kiffin?>>

Fulmer and Majors both knew the Douglas family pretty well. Kiffin made the right choice, whether intentionally or not. He would have created a side show if he came to Knoxville that would have detracted from the service.

JSamson7 writes:

It was a great service for my friend, Im still sad that he's gone. I don't think anyone of us would have that many people show up to our funerals in 100 lifetimes. Like one pastor said, instead of criticizing AD for some of his faults, maybe we should re-examine our own b/c we all far short in one way or another. I truly hope that a lot of the Vol fans that bashed him realize that if all of the Vols that were in attendance last night recognize Aaron as a VFL, then maybe you should too. For the Tide fans that frequent this site, like the pastor also said "Aaron may have worn the Crimson & White recently, but best believe the Vol Nation simply loaned him out to you..." RIP my not so little brother, we'll meet again soon...

BreatheUT writes:

RIP AD! God bless the family!

peyton4prez writes:

What happen to Douglas was such a tragedy. The young man suffered from an addiction and unfortunatley was needed by to many different people to have time to take care of his own problems. As a addict I know the kinds of temptation a college campus can have and it is certainly not an enviroment Aaron Douglas needed to be in. Hopefully Douglas won't have died in vein and some ohter young blue chip athlete with the same demons can take this as a sign that he or she should look after thereselves first and foremost.

easleychuck writes:

What a shocking waste of a life, cut oh so short.

easleychuck writes:

in response to peyton4prez:

What happen to Douglas was such a tragedy. The young man suffered from an addiction and unfortunatley was needed by to many different people to have time to take care of his own problems. As a addict I know the kinds of temptation a college campus can have and it is certainly not an enviroment Aaron Douglas needed to be in. Hopefully Douglas won't have died in vein and some ohter young blue chip athlete with the same demons can take this as a sign that he or she should look after thereselves first and foremost.

Wish you were right about this being a warning to other athletes (blue chip or not) but, sadly, this is rarely ever the case.

People tend to learn things the hard way. And so many times, the hard way is forever.

murrayvol writes:

in response to beartn#223846:

That's what I was thinking, shipperman. Also, that neither Fulmer, Majors, nor Dooley ever coached him...so where was Kiffin?>>

Fulmer and Majors both knew the Douglas family pretty well. Kiffin made the right choice, whether intentionally or not. He would have created a side show if he came to Knoxville that would have detracted from the service.

Exactly.

JSamson7 writes:

in response to lakindofguy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Unfortunately he did go to the party by himself to meet 2 girls he just met in FL. He took a cab to the party, but his friends in Jacksonville didn't end up going to the party with him. Trust me, otherwise he would still be here with us...

pammyvol1000 writes:

Prayers for the family now and months to come.
The hardest part is yet to come. May God be with them.

jbvol04 writes:

in response to beartn#223846:

That's what I was thinking, shipperman. Also, that neither Fulmer, Majors, nor Dooley ever coached him...so where was Kiffin?>>

Fulmer and Majors both knew the Douglas family pretty well. Kiffin made the right choice, whether intentionally or not. He would have created a side show if he came to Knoxville that would have detracted from the service.

Fulmer recruited and coached him his red shirt year.

leedsvol2007 writes:

in response to pj_ladyvolnMI:

That's what I was thinking, shipperman. Also, that neither Fulmer, Majors, nor Dooley ever coached him...so where was Kiffin?

Such a tragedy. I certainly hope that it makes all of his friends think twice before getting in certain situations, if that was truly the cause. Prayers and blessings to the Douglas family.

I think you have to bear in mind that funerals are designed to comfort and support the living in times of grief.

The common thread is that Majors, Fulmer and Cutcliffe all coached his father and were there to support the family as a result.

What a tragic ending to a promising young life.

Our prayers go out to the family.

keithknoxvol writes:

in response to JSamson7:

It was a great service for my friend, Im still sad that he's gone. I don't think anyone of us would have that many people show up to our funerals in 100 lifetimes. Like one pastor said, instead of criticizing AD for some of his faults, maybe we should re-examine our own b/c we all far short in one way or another. I truly hope that a lot of the Vol fans that bashed him realize that if all of the Vols that were in attendance last night recognize Aaron as a VFL, then maybe you should too. For the Tide fans that frequent this site, like the pastor also said "Aaron may have worn the Crimson & White recently, but best believe the Vol Nation simply loaned him out to you..." RIP my not so little brother, we'll meet again soon...

AD is a VFL indeed.

volrush17#609372 writes:

in response to JSamson7:

It was a great service for my friend, Im still sad that he's gone. I don't think anyone of us would have that many people show up to our funerals in 100 lifetimes. Like one pastor said, instead of criticizing AD for some of his faults, maybe we should re-examine our own b/c we all far short in one way or another. I truly hope that a lot of the Vol fans that bashed him realize that if all of the Vols that were in attendance last night recognize Aaron as a VFL, then maybe you should too. For the Tide fans that frequent this site, like the pastor also said "Aaron may have worn the Crimson & White recently, but best believe the Vol Nation simply loaned him out to you..." RIP my not so little brother, we'll meet again soon...

Well spoken young one-May the Lord Bless & Keep your Friend, and all of those his life touched
Ol Vol-Class of '72

taylorsvolfan writes:

You just better make sure you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

VAvolfanRON writes:

i just cant imagine one of my kids going before me......i am not sure how to handle that....

JSampson, with all due respect, he is not VFL. I did wish him well and hoped good things for him

JSamson7 writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

i just cant imagine one of my kids going before me......i am not sure how to handle that....

JSampson, with all due respect, he is not VFL. I did wish him well and hoped good things for him

VavolfanRON, so you're opinion carries more wieght than the current & past Vols that were there in attendance? You've probably never even been a Vol, more like a fan boy if anything. Stupid fans like you are what gives the good fans of Vol nation a bad rep across the country... Go listen to some Smokey Robinson you clown!

JSamson7 writes:

in response to volrush17#609372:

Well spoken young one-May the Lord Bless & Keep your Friend, and all of those his life touched
Ol Vol-Class of '72

Thanks volrush17#609372, although I'm in my early 30's I guess I would still be considered young. AD & I initially connected through our music endeavors, but he went to MHS w/ my sister & both of us being former Rebels as well as D1 athletes made it easy for us to become fast friends.

VAvolfanRON writes:

jsamson,
you missed the point. you cant see the forest for the tree.

anyhow, this is about him being vol for life. this is about his death. it was way too soon for him. i would have love to see how he did for alabama.

i guess someone needs to give me a definition of VFL?

VAvolfanRON writes:

correction: this is NOT about him being vol for life.

JSamson7 writes:

VAvolfanRON, for you to even make the point that he is not a VFL b/c he's now dead is as insensitive as they come. He's been a Vol since birth, was a VFL even after he transferred to Bama, & even Fulmer himself told the Douglas family that a scholarship was waiting on him once he was of age... If that's not a VFL then I don't know what is you ####### moron! I'm sure glad you're up in VA b/c I know a number of Vols who would like to see you face to face & hear you make that statement & smack up you upside your head. Every past & present Vol in attendance as well as number of Bama players were in tears the majority of the ceremony b/c of how they felt about AD. By the way, it's see the forest from the "trees" you smart ###.

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

A Vol for life in a Crimson Tide uniform. Some things are beyond understanding of anyone, and faith is our only recourse.

VAvolfanRON writes:

im done with you.
i have a hard time with juvenile, hot headed people.

you read what you want to read, not what i am saying.

you'll grow up one day. good luck

GardenGnome writes:

in response to taylorsvolfan:

You just better make sure you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

...or else what?

JSamson7 writes:

in response to VAvolfanRON:

im done with you.
i have a hard time with juvenile, hot headed people.

you read what you want to read, not what i am saying.

you'll grow up one day. good luck

I'm neither juvenile or hot headed, it's just your logic makes no sense to a normal, eductaed person.

volmom8388 writes:

Fernandina Beach weekly newspaper states he was sent to Florida by his mother to "straighten his head out". He was to stay for 9 or 10 days to think some things over.

What a heavy burden for his Mom. My prayers continue for this family.

VAvolfanRON writes:

in response to volmom8388:

Fernandina Beach weekly newspaper states he was sent to Florida by his mother to "straighten his head out". He was to stay for 9 or 10 days to think some things over.

What a heavy burden for his Mom. My prayers continue for this family.

wow, that would be a heavy burden. i feel for her and the family. im hoping that they have the strength to get thru this.

JSamson7 writes:

in response to volmom8388:

Fernandina Beach weekly newspaper states he was sent to Florida by his mother to "straighten his head out". He was to stay for 9 or 10 days to think some things over.

What a heavy burden for his Mom. My prayers continue for this family.

I don't see that on the web site... You'll need to provide a link for me to believe that.

volmom8388 writes:

http://www.fbnewsleader.com/articles/...

Found in the middle of the article....

"Hurley said Thursday afternoon, "This guy arrived a couple of days ago at the (Jacksonville) airport. He was picked up by a couple of his buddies who were also from the Knoxville-Maryville area.

"He was to spend nine or 10 days here in the Jacksonville area. His mother sent him down here, and I'm not exactly sure what that was about, except that he needed to think, apparently, or get his head straight about something."

JSamson7 writes:

in response to volmom8388:

http://www.fbnewsleader.com/articles/...

Found in the middle of the article....

"Hurley said Thursday afternoon, "This guy arrived a couple of days ago at the (Jacksonville) airport. He was picked up by a couple of his buddies who were also from the Knoxville-Maryville area.

"He was to spend nine or 10 days here in the Jacksonville area. His mother sent him down here, and I'm not exactly sure what that was about, except that he needed to think, apparently, or get his head straight about something."

volmom8388, I stand corrected. Maybe Karla felt a vacation would do him good, I know 1st hand they've tried to help him in any way they can. I can assure you though that they've been really patient with him as any parent would. Again though, as the pastor said sunday night, it's not for us to reason why & how everything happened as David & Karla will deal with that in the days, months, & years ahead...

volmom8388 writes:

in response to JSamson7:

volmom8388, I stand corrected. Maybe Karla felt a vacation would do him good, I know 1st hand they've tried to help him in any way they can. I can assure you though that they've been really patient with him as any parent would. Again though, as the pastor said sunday night, it's not for us to reason why & how everything happened as David & Karla will deal with that in the days, months, & years ahead...

Our son was a classmate of Aarons at MHS and UT--I am sure that she had only the best of intentions for her son as we all do for our children---regardless of their ages. He is with the Lord now and free from wordly burdens and worries. As parents all we can do is love our children unconditionally and provide a foundation;Im sure that they did the very best they could.

AmericanBornTaxpayer writes:

in response to peyton4prez:

What happen to Douglas was such a tragedy. The young man suffered from an addiction and unfortunatley was needed by to many different people to have time to take care of his own problems. As a addict I know the kinds of temptation a college campus can have and it is certainly not an enviroment Aaron Douglas needed to be in. Hopefully Douglas won't have died in vein and some ohter young blue chip athlete with the same demons can take this as a sign that he or she should look after thereselves first and foremost.

I for one am very sorry to see another young man become a causality of a culture that is destroying many of our youth. I knew Aaron and his family. My son was a teammate of his for three years at Maryville HS. They communicated often even after the both of them graduated. Like many, he was a good kid who got caught & stung by the very culture he perused because of bad influences. His behavior may have been pacified because he was born with a big body and was a good athlete. He had some problems but choose to move away from them rather than face them IMO. He could have had a support structure of family, faith and friends. But he did not want to extend a hand back to his roots or due to pressures could not see the path back. Ones problems always move with you until you address them, or they destroy you. My son did try to reach out to Aaron, but time and pressures in many directions prevented a stronger bond. We are sad at this failure and loss on our part. We were not let in but perhaps could have tried harder. We failed Aaron in this way.

If you are a person that condones the rap punk gangster drug culture behavior in any way, you are apart of what caused this young mans death. It is sad our own sitting president condones this type of culture by promoting it in Our White House. It is sad major college sports does not crack down on drugs harder. It would be simple. But big money is in the way. Coaches can’t be everywhere and nurse maid players, but they could take a harder stand on behavior and influence. Ultimately, a person has to police himself and avoid things that destroy life. I often wonder in my prayers what makes a brilliant talented kid peruse a culture of losers, misfits and moral decadence. What is to be gained? Some popularity among fools, mockers and short term feeling of utopia. God’s word does say sin is pleasurable for a season. Unfortunately that season in many cases is ones last season.

We are very sad and this is very painful to the Douglas Family and many others of us who were around Aaron. I hope coaches, teammates, classmates, teachers and others learn something from this tragedy. Not condone it and look the other way. Our youth are at stake and it is too high a price to pay sometimes. I pray to the God of Mercy that this young man found peace prior to his meeting the one true creator of all. RIP Aaron, we enjoyed watching and knowing you. I morn with the Douglas family and pray for them that they will find peace in this tragedy.

OwensboroVol writes:

in response to peyton4prez:

What happen to Douglas was such a tragedy. The young man suffered from an addiction and unfortunatley was needed by to many different people to have time to take care of his own problems. As a addict I know the kinds of temptation a college campus can have and it is certainly not an enviroment Aaron Douglas needed to be in. Hopefully Douglas won't have died in vein and some ohter young blue chip athlete with the same demons can take this as a sign that he or she should look after thereselves first and foremost.

I was unaware that a cause of death had been determined. I know that the kid had an addiction problem, but was hoping that the cause of death was from something else. Nothing can help a Parent at a time like this, but I can't help but believe that if the cause of death is not an overdose that it will ease their pain just a little.

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