May 13, 2008

Douglas anxious to fulfill lifelong dream

A verbal commitment hardly means that other colleges will back off their recruitment of a coveted prospect. For Aaron Douglas, the four-star tight end from Maryville High School and one of the jewels of Tennessee's 2008 signing class, that meant an extended period of unnecessary and fruitless attention from virtually every major college program across the United States.

The son of former Tennessee Lady Vols standout Karla Horton-Douglas and gritty, overachieving gridiron stalwart David Douglas, Aaron Douglas committed to the Vols and family friend Phillip Fulmertwo months before his junior season.

"It does feel like I've waited a little bit, but I've enjoyed every bit of it," said the 6-foot-7, 250-pound tight end with vapor-lock hands. "High school was great. But now it's time to go to the next level."

Despite playing with a painful shoulder injury throughout most of his senior football and basketball seasons that required surgery this spring, Douglas has progressed nicely in his preparations for joining the Vols.

"I've been doing as much as I can," he said. "The shoulder injury set me back, but my body usually deals with injuries pretty well. I'm almost 100 percent sure it's going to be healed by the season.

"I'm going to therapy (at Appalachian Therapy Center) every week. Doing a bunch of strengthening exercises. Working on range of motion. Trying to get everything back."

With ranks thinned at tight end and Douglas already possessing a suit-rack frame, he hopes to battle for playing time right away.

"I'd like to. I'm just going to go in there and work as hard as possible and take whatever they give me," he said.

If necessary, Douglas could step in and help with long-snapping chores after excelling in that role in high school.

"I love long-snapping; it's something that came to me naturally," he said. "I feel comfortable with doing it. If they wanted me to do that, I'd be glad to. I really don't feel much pressure with it, and I love running downfield trying to make that tackle."

Digging in with Douglas

I realize that you're not going to be far from home, but what will you most miss?

"My family. Friends. But it's part of life. A new chapter just getting started. It's not like I won't get to see them, but I'll be working a lot. And I'll miss the steak. I'll definitely miss getting the steak cooked. Hamburger steak. Baked potato. Deer steak. Venison; I love deer steak. Mainly my dad and my grandfather hunt. We've always got some deer meat in the fridge."

What's your favorite career football moment?

"It's just everything together. Just when we won the state championship this year, nothing against all the others, but that 60-0 and four-peat, the feeling I had as soon as the game was over can't be explained. It's got to be the best moment." (Editor's note: Douglas also won a Class AAA state basketball championship and closed his middle school football career with a state championship. He has not lost a football game in six years.)

What about 'The Catch?' The one-handed grab against rival Alcoa in the 2007 opener that Maryville coach George Quarles called the best he had seen?

"(Laughs) I saw it the next Monday after the game in film. It all happened so fast on the field, I don't really know what was going on. I knew it was a pretty good catch, but I was mad I didn't stay on my feet. I could see it was a pretty good catch on the highlight film after season. To be honest, I still don't know how I caught it."

Who are your heroes?

"Of course my parents. Everyone in my family. Bunch of guys to come through UT. Growing up around it, I would tend to watch every move of those guys. But mainly my parents just because they've guided me in sports and everything else all my life."

If you could have dinner with any three people who would it be?

"Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and Jeremy Shockey."

What, if any, are your pregame routines or superstitions?

"Hmm, none. I just kind of like to get my mind right. About like everybody. Sometimes I listened to an iPod. But I don't have to have a song to get me pumped up for the game."

What's your dream car?

"McClaren F1."

What was the funniest or most memorable event during your recruitment?

"Just probably when I went over to UT the summer after my sophomore year when they offered me. I was so in shock because that was everything that I dreamed about. I always wanted to play for UT. It became real when they offered me a scholarship that I was getting that opportunity."

Was there ever any doubt that it would be Tennessee?

"I never thought about it in-depth because I always wanted to play in Neyland Stadium."

What is your favorite thing to do other than playing football?

"Video games. I love to play video games and hang out with friends. X-Box 360. I just got the Grand Theft Auto game. I've been on it a little bit."

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