KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/UTSports.com)-- UPDATE: (Celebration of Life service Thursday March 3rd, 6:30pm, Foothills Church, 1551 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville, TN)
David Douglas, a Tennessee Volunteer from his first breath to his last, passed away on Saturday at the age of 52.
A native of Spring City, Tennessee, Douglas starred at Rhea County High School before coming to UT.
He arrived at Tennessee in the fall of 1981 as a 200-pound walk-on, but would develop his size and his talents to earn a scholarship in 1982 and became a key contributor on the offensive line over the next four years.
Under head coach John Majors and offensive line coach Phillip Fulmer, Douglas was a starter on the famed 1985 “SugarVols.” That Tennessee team won the Southeastern Conference Championship and defeated heavy favorite Miami, 35-7 in the 1986 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Douglas was an eighth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1986 and played five seasons with Cincinnati and New England, reaching Super Bowl XXIII with the Bengals following the 1988 season. A neck injury cut his professional career short in 1991.
Douglas married the former Karla Horton, a star forward on Pat Summitt’s first national championship team at Tennessee in 1987. Their son Aaron would go on to play for Tennessee in 2009 but tragically lost his life in 2011.
David Douglas was first diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in 2013 and valiantly battled the disease for the remainder of his life.
In the fall of 2013, Tennessee dedicated a locker in the Peyton Manning Locker Room at Neyland Stadium to the Douglas family. David, Karla and Aaron are all named on the dedication plaque, as well as David’s younger brother Steve.
“It’s such an honor,” Douglas said on that day. “All of us were fortunate to come to this university. That’s one of the proudest things I have is that my degree is from my home state, the University of Tennessee. I’ll be a Tennessee fan until I go to Heaven some day.”
Douglas is survived by his wife Karla and daughter Ashley.
Funeral arrangements will be updated when final.
Some of those that knew Douglas expressed their thoughts on the popular former Vol through Twitter:
Maryville Rebels lost a great man today David Douglas was a great husband father and friend. Will miss him. Pray for their family— George W Quarles (@gwquarles) February 27, 2016
RIP David Douglas. Terrific man. Credit to UT & our community. #Pray4hisfamily— Tony Basilio (@TonyBasilio) February 27, 2016
We lost a good man this morning, one of the best. David Douglas was an exemplary friend, father and husband. Please pray for his family.— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) February 27, 2016