Anonymous Aaron

Fans haven't been hearing much from Tennessee's right tackle lately, which means they may be hearing a lot about him in the future.

Simply put, when an offensive lineman does his job well, he usually gets overlooked. And Tennessee redshirt freshman Aaron Douglas has been doing his job exceptionally well the past few weeks, grading out at 91 percent vs. South Carolina in Game 7 and at 90 percent vs. Memphis in Game 8.

As a result, he has shed his anonymity - at least temporarily - by being tabbed Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week on Monday after just his sixth college start.

Calling the accomplishment "unbelievable," Vol head coach Lane Kiffin added: "The biggest thing is that you don't hear about him. That's the great thing. If you're not hearing about an offensive tackle during the game that's a good thing. It means he's not getting penalties, not getting beat for sacks."

Douglas played tight end for a Maryville High School team that went 60-0 during his four years there, then sat out his first year at UT due to shoulder surgeries. Switched to offensive tackle last spring, he adjusted so quickly that he had worked his way into the starting lineup by Game 4 this fall. He appears to be a natural at the position his father (David) played for Tennessee in the mid-1980s.

"We've almost taken him for granted over there," Kiffin said of Aaron. "We're not even helping him in protection anymore. We put him one-on-one all the time, so he's playing great."

The head man conceded that it is "not very" typical for a guy to play so well so soon after changing positions. But Aaron Douglas is not a typical football player. The 6-6, 296-pounder is more athletic and cerebral than most. He's also playing in a scheme that is unusually accommodating.

"One thing that helps him is that we don't do a ton of stuff in the run game," Kiffin said. "That allows young players to play earlier, as opposed to some other systems. That has helped him but he's done an unbelievable job - not only because he's a freshman but because he's been playing the position for six months."

In addition to being athletic and cerebral, Douglas is unusually humble. When he found out about his Offensive Lineman of the Week honor, his first response was disbelief.

"One of my friends back in Maryville texted me, and I didn't believe him," he said. "Then I checked it out, and it was legit. I was pretty excited but I'm not into the personal accolades."

Indeed. Douglas wishes he could share the award with his linemates.

"Really, the SEC Lineman of the Week should be credited to our whole offensive line," he said. "I don't look at it as an individual award. I'm definitely feeling more and more comfortable each week and I'm definitely honored to get that. But, like I said, I think it's more of a team award."

Because blocking is as much about technique as brute strength, Douglas said technique has been "a big emphasis of mine." That technique will be tested this Saturday in Oxford, when the Vols face an Ole Miss team that features one of the biggest and strongest defensive fronts in college football.

"I've watched them play a few times this year," he said. "They definitely have a real good defensive line and bring a lot of pressure but I know we'll be prepared for what they throw at us."

Thanks to good coaching, good athleticism, good bloodlines and a good head for the game, Aaron Douglas should be prepared for anything the Rebels throw at him personally. He's making amazing strides in his first year as a tackle.

"I'm starting to come along and getting more and more comfortable each game," he conceded. "It's more playing football than having to think, so I'm definitely enjoying it right now."

With the Vols 5-4 and looking for a big finish to the season, he'd really enjoy a big win Saturday in Oxford.

"This is a huge game," Douglas said. "Not only is it an SEC game but this will clinch a bowl appearance for us."


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