Aaron Douglas, Tennessee's most talented and experienced offensive lineman, asked for his release Thursday and plans to leave the program.
Douglas started last season as a redshirt freshman at right tackle, but had not been practicing this spring while dealing with some personal issues.
"This was all Aaron's decision," said Douglas' father, David Douglas, who played on Tennessee's 1985 SEC championship team. "We've been talking about this for a month, and initially, I didn't necessarily agree with his decision. He actually wanted to do this a month ago.
"The bottom line is that he wasn't happy. He's always going to care about Tennessee, but I just think he wants to go somewhere and be his own person. Aaron needs a fresh start, and as his parents, we're going to support him in every way."
Aaron Douglas informed Tennessee coach Derek Dooley of his decision on Thursday before practice. The elder Douglas, who played in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, also talked with Dooley.
"I can tell you this was a gut-wrenching decision," David Douglas said. "It had always been Aaron's dream to play at Tennessee, but it just wasn't right for him. He even mentioned it a couple of times last year that it didn't feel right. It's not coach Dooley's fault, and I told him that. I understand how tough it is to lose your most experienced offensive lineman, but Aaron just wants to get away."
The 6-foot-6, 287-pound Douglas earned freshman All-America honors last season. He was a star tight end in high school in Maryville, Tenn., and signed in 2008 under former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer. He redshirted his first year at Tennessee and was then moved to the offensive line last year under Lane Kiffin.
Douglas was expected to slide over to left tackle next season for the Vols, who will now be faced with starting five new players on the offensive line.
Dooley said he would not release Douglas to any team on Tennessee's schedule.
Douglas' departure comes on the heels of Dooley announcing last week that sophomore running back Bryce Brown was not a part of the team and would not be going through spring practice.
There were reports that Brown would join his older brother at Kansas State, but he remains enrolled in school at Tennessee and Dooley hasn't closed the door on his return.
Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com