TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas, a junior college transfer and onetime Tennessee starter, was found dead on the second floor balcony of a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla., after attending a party, according to police.
Fernandina police chief James T. Hurley released a statement
describing what authorities know about Douglas's final hours.
Witnesses said the 21-year-old Douglas was taking a taxi to
Jacksonville after dinner with friends when two women apparently
approached the cab and invited him to a party. He arrived between
11 and 11:30 p.m. Douglas was seen at the residence as late as 2
a.m. before a male resident and others discovered him "apparently
dead" on the balcony Thursday morning, Hurley said.
Douglas was pronounced dead at the scene. The medical examiner's
office is investigating the cause of death.
No police report was immediately available, according to a
dispatcher who answered the phone at the department.
The residence is listed on Zillow.com as a 2,760-square-foot
Douglas spent last season as Arizona Western Community College's
starting left tackle and transferred to play for the Crimson Tide
in January. 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
"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.
Alabama lineman Barrett Jones, who is also from Tennessee, had
known Douglas since the recruiting process in high school.
"Aaron Douglas was a great teammate and great guy," Jones said
in a statement. "He was a really hard worker that was having a
positive impact on our football team."
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
"No one can understand the pain that a family must endure after
the loss of a child," Dooley said. "My prayers go out to David
and Karla and everyone who was close to Aaron."
Dooley had 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
"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.
AP Sports Writer Beth Rucker in Knoxville, Tenn., contributed to
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)