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Thursday, May 12, 2011
Bama's Aaron Douglas found dead

By Chris Low
ESPN.com

Alabama offensive tackle Aaron Douglas, an All-America lineman two years ago as a Tennessee freshman before landing with the Crimson Tide in January, was found dead in Florida early Thursday.

Douglas was found dead on the second-floor balcony of a home in Fernandina Beach, Fla., after attending a party, according to police.

Witnesses said Douglas, 21, was taking a taxi to Jacksonville after dinner with friends, Fernandina police chief James T. Hurley said in a statement.
Aaron Douglas
Lineman Aaron Douglas, shown during Tennessee's Sept. 12, 2009, game against UCLA, was found dead Thursday in Florida. He was 21.

The statement said two females apparently invited him to a party while he was in the cab, and he arrived between 11 and 11:30 p.m. He was seen at the residence as late as 2 a.m. before the 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 single-family house.

Douglas had tweeted at 11:36 p.m. CT 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," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in a statement released by the university. "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," Saban said.

Douglas transferred to Alabama after spending last season at Arizona Western College and was competing for the starting left tackle job this spring. He began his career at Tennessee, where he was a freshman All-America offensive lineman in 2009.

With the Vols, Douglas started 10 games at tackle and saw action in 13 games after changing positions from tight end.

Following former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin's departure for USC after the '09 season, Douglas did not participate in spring practice with the Vols once Derek Dooley took over as coach and decided he wanted to get away from the Knoxville area.

"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.

After leaving the school, Douglas admitted to suffering from depression. 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.

"He was a great kid and a great football player," Arizona Western College coach Tom Minnick said Thursday. "He was going to be the next NFL player from Arizona Western College. He played his butt off here. His athletic ability was unbelievable.

"There was a lot of pressure on him because the Tennessee fans had called him a traitor. It was putting pressure on him. Words had hurt him," Minnick said.

Kiffin said he was notified of Douglas' death by several current members of the Tennessee coaching staff.

"It is a tragedy. I heard the news this morning," Kiffin said. "He was a great kid with a huge heart. He will be truly missed by many."

The 6-foot-7, 275-pound player attended high school in nearby Maryville, Tenn. His parents were athletes at Tennessee; David was an offensive lineman in the mid-1980s, and Karla started three seasons for the Lady Vols basketball team and contributed to head coach Pat Summitt's first national title team.

"Aaron Douglas was a great teammate and great guy. He was a really hard worker that was having a positive impact on our football team," Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones said in a statement. "Aaron was someone I've known since high school. We were from the same state, and we were being recruited at the same time. I enjoyed getting to know him, and I was looking forward to having him as a teammate the next two years. His loss is extremely sad, and we are going to miss him dearly."

Chris Low covers the Southeastern Conference for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN reporter Joe Schad and the Associated Press was included.