KNOXVILLE -- Tennessee sophomore offensive tackle Aaron Douglas asked for and has been granted his release from the team, Vols head coach Derek Dooley reported after Thursday’s practice.
“Aaron Douglas and I met today and he decided that he’s no longer a part of our football team,” Dooley said. “It’s unfortunate that we never got a chance to coach him. But as I’ve told the team, our concern is not what we don’t have; it’s who we have. We’ve got 84 guys who are excited about our program.
“We’re shaping a new culture. And as we do, this is a process.”
Douglas played in 13 games for the Vols last season, starting the last 10 during his redshirt freshman campaign.
“There was a point where we were going to have to have a talk,” Dooley said of Douglas’ inactivity during off-season drills and the first two weeks of practice. “Certainly we’re always going to support our players when they are having problems, but there’s also a responsibility that every player has to the team.
“I think it had reached that point where we needed to sit down and really decide which way we were headed.”
Dooley said that, with conditions, he has no objections to Douglas leaving for other football programs.
“That’s going to be between Aaron and me on the conditions. It’s a case by case. Certainly, we’re not going to release him to anybody we play.”
The Vols head coach, who was hired just slightly more than two months ago, regrets the loss but placed it in the perspective of what he has learned thus far about his 2010 Vols.
“It doesn’t do anything to me because he was never here. I’ve never seen Aaron even jump over a bag. There’s been no change as far as what we’re coaching and the personnel decisions we’ve been making.
“I’ve told the team, ‘We’re planting grass; we’re not pulling weeds.’ That’s what we’re doing. We’re building for the future. We’re putting seeds down. We’re going to have a great field soon, and I’m not going to concern myself with pulling weeds because then nothing happens. There’s no growth.
“This is the team’s team, and I’ve had a lot of communication with our players and our seniors. If there are ever decisions like that on people coming back or leaving, I will always involve them.”
Dooley said he remains focused on implementing his system with now 11 practices remaining this spring.
“It takes time. We’ve got a lot of new faces, so we’ve got to do a good job as coaches. We’re throwing a lot at them now and we’re doing it on purpose. But I feel like we have some good young talent in the program, and we’ve signed some good talent.
“I have no worries about the future.”
RED ZONE WORK: Dooley said that during Thursday’s practice inside the Neyland-Thompson Sports Center, the Vols installed their red-zone offense, red-zone defense, coverages and routes.
“We go through our goals every time we install a new phase, so it was a real spirited practice. It was physical. The defense really did a nice job, especially in run periods. I was pleased with how the day went.”
(E-mail Stan Crawley at firstname.lastname@example.org)