TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama Department of Athletics has been notified that Crimson Tide offensive lineman Aaron Douglas died Thursday in Florida. No further details are available at this time.
"It is with tremendous sadness that we received the news of the passing of Aaron Douglas," said Alabama Director of Athletics Mal Moore. "Our prayers and sympathies are with the Douglas family at this tragic time."
"It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even more so when it is a member of your family," said UA head football coach Nick Saban. "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, 21, was a native of Maryville, Tenn., who transferred to Alabama from Western Arizona Community College in January, 2011, and practiced with the Crimson Tide during spring drills. Douglas began his collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, where he earned Freshman All-America honors in 2009. After that season, Douglas transferred to Western Arizona Community College and earned NJCAA All-America recognition in 2010.
Douglas started 10 games at tackle and saw action in 13 contests as a redshirt freshman in 2009 at Tennessee after changing positions from tight end. He was named the SEC offensive lineman of the Week following the Vols win over Memphis in 2009 and earned Freshman All-SEC honors from league coaches.
A standout tight end during his high school career at Maryville (Tenn.) High School, Douglas was twice named the Class 4A Mr. Football Lineman of the Year in Tennessee while helping Maryville to a 60-0 record with four consecutive Class 4A state championships.
Douglas' father, David, was an offensive lineman for UT in the mid-1980s while his mother, Karla Horton Douglas, started three seasons for the Lady Vols basketball team and contributed to head coach Pat Summitt’s first national title team.
Story from the AP
Alabama lineman Aaron Douglas dies in Florida
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas, a junior college transfer and onetime Tennessee starter, has died in Florida.
The university's athletic department confirmed that the 21-year-old Douglas died Thursday but had no further details.
Douglas spent last season as Arizona Western Community College's
starting left tackle and transferred to play for the Crimson Tide
According to his Twitter feed, Douglas had been in the Jacksonville, Fla., area this week.
Douglas had tweeted at 11:36 p.m. CDT Wednesday asking "Anybody
still up right now?!?"
"It is a tragedy anytime you lose someone close to you and even
more so when it is a member of your family," 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."
Douglas was vying to replace left tackle James Carpenter, a first-round NFL draft pick, during the spring.
The university was already coping with a devastating tornado that struck Tuscaloosa on April 27. Snapper Carson Tinker was injured, and his girlfriend, Ashley Anderson, was killed.
Douglas was charged with DUI in December while home in Maryville
over holiday break and pleaded guilty to the charges in March,
serving a 48-hour jail sentence.
Douglas initially signed with Tennessee under coach Phillip Fulmer in 2008 ranked as the No. 5 tight end in the nation by Rivals.com after four years at Maryville High School, a perennially dominant football program located just 15 miles away from the Volunteers' Knoxville campus.
He took a redshirt his freshman season and moved to offensive
tackle in Lane Kiffin's lone season with the Vols, starting 10 games that year. Soon after Kiffin left and Tennessee hired Derek Dooley, Douglas asked for a release from his scholarship.
Douglas cited personal problems and depression from the pressure
of playing close to home and for his parents' alma mater.
His father, David Douglas, was an offensive lineman for the Vols, and
his mother, Karla Horton Douglas, was a Lady Volunteers basketball
Dooley granted Douglas' release on condition he did not play football for a program within an eight-hour radius of Knoxville for the first season after his departure.
Douglas joined some former Maryville teammates at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., before he and teammate Jesse Williams signed with Alabama.
"It's a tragedy and all my prayers go out to him and his family," Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick said. "He was a great kid.
He came in during the summer and helped our young kids out and was a leader on the field and off the field and did everything we asked him to do.
"He will be truly missed."
Minnick said Douglas would often stop by the football offices to say hello and talk about the coaches' plans for the day. He said Douglas' parents came to games and remarked on their son's maturation.
"They praised us and said, 'Coach, he wasn't like this when he was down there (in Tennessee). He's grown up. He's going to school
and doing what he's supposed to do,"' Minnick said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)