New Demons' coach Jay Thomas announced the arrival of Douglas (6-2, 320 pounds), a Batesville, Miss., native who was a Class 6A All-State standout at a powerhouse South Panola High School program. He was playing center at Ole Miss and will work at both guard slots and center for NSU. The Demons have a senior Preseason All-Southland Conference center, Warren Jones.
South Panola won two state titles and a mythical national championship in Douglas' senior year of 2010 in polls run by Rivals.com, USA Today and MaxPreps.com.
Douglas was a two-year first-team all-conference center at Northwest Mississippi Community College, starting all 17 of his games there. He was a walk-on at Ole Miss.
"Austin is a great addition to our team, a very good, solid player who is first and foremost a fine young man who will fit into what we're trying to get done," said Thomas. "The upside is he's been at Ole Miss for spring ball and part of preseason camp, competing against SEC athletes, and the speed of the game won't be a hurdle he'll need to clear. There's a transition in learning what to do, and as he figures that out, we're quite certain he can contribute."
Offensive line coach and assistant head coach Ben Norton said the Demons already were very aware of Douglas, having pursued him briefly after Thomas put his staff together and they hit the recruiting trail in early January.
"We got on board late in the recruiting process and he was already pretty committed to Ole Miss, which is close to home. When we got word he was looking, we got a lot of help from people across campus to get him ready to go here," said Norton.
Norton didn't rule out prospects of Douglas challenging for playing time when the Demons open the season in less than two weeks at Missouri State. Senior Tchissakid Player is a returning starter at right guard while the Demons are looking for a new starting left guard.
"He knows the interior positions well. He's a very smart, savvy player, and very physical on film. Transferring from an SEC school, he's been competing at a high level which says a lot about his ability.
"He's willing and able. He's been able to watch some practice, he'll be involved tonight, and he's picked up on what we're doing and seems on point with that. We'll see how he progresses and when he's able, he will have an opportunity," said Norton.
Northwestern has a scrimmage Saturday morning, takes Sunday off, then resumes workouts each afternoon next week until a mock game next Thursday night.