Jamil Douglas powering his Sun Devil success story into the NFL

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Iowa defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat , left, runs drills with Arizona State Jamil Douglas during NCAA college football practice for the Senior Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. Iowa defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat , left, runs drills with Arizona State Jamil Douglas during NCAA college football practice for the Senior Bowl, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Jamil Douglas has made quite a name for himself by clearing the way for his Arizona State teammates. In the process, he has powered through adversity and opened up his own path to the NFL.

The latest stop in that journey took Douglas to Indianapolis, where he was one of four Sun Devils to take part in the NFL Scouting Combine. Participating in the highest profile pre-draft event made for an eye-opening, yet memorable, experience for Douglas.

"It was surreal, to be honest,” Douglas said. “Growing up, seeing the guys on TV, you never really know the actual things that they go through for the four or five days that they are there. It was a great experience. A lot of work, a lot of meetings, and a lot of talking to teams about yourself, but I wouldn't trade it for anything."

During the process, Douglas was measured, weighed, interviewed, and put through a rigorous series of drills by NFL teams.

"I think I did well, from interviews talking about football to actually performing on the field,” said Douglas. “I think I showed my athleticism and how versatile I can be. I am happy with what I did."

That versatility is one of Douglas' most sought after traits at the next level. The 6-foot-4, 304-pound Douglas started all 27 games at left guard during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but team needs led to him sliding out to left tackle last year. Not missing a beat, Douglas started all 13 games there last year and was a first team All-Pac-12 selection.

"They view me as both (a guard and tackle), and that's helping me a lot right now,” Douglas said of the feedback he's heard from NFL teams. “In the NFL, they only travel seven offensive linemen, so if you can play two positions, that lifts your stock. I'm hearing a lot that people like me at guard, because I'm able to pull and get on the perimeter and make holes for running backs. They also like me at tackle."

Now with under two months left until the 2015 NFL Draft begins on April 30, mock draft season is in full swing. With projections, hype, and rumor abound, Douglas is not letting distract him from the task at hand.

"I don't listen to mock drafts or anything like that. Draft day is completely its own animal,” Douglas said. “Things do go how mock drafts have them planned. I don't pay attention to any of that. I'm just trying to put myself in the best position possible to go where I should go."

Following the Combine, Douglas has returned to Tempe to continue training with the Sun Devil strength and conditioning staff while working on the finer points of his game. Up next, Douglas will be taking part in ASU's Pro Day for NFL scouts on March 6. Individual workouts and visits with teams will follow in the weeks thereafter, making this work all the more critical.

"I am working on my hip mobility. That is something that I think can help me a lot,” said Douglas. “Playing lower. Sometimes, I felt like I played a little too high and it got me in trouble. I'm back training with Coach Griz (Shawn Griswold) and Coach (Josh) Storms and working on being more explosive like I have for the last couple of years. I'm feeling great right now."

Douglas' choice to continue his training at ASU was an easy one.

His diligent work with Griswold and Storms transformed his body while living up to the standards imposed by head coach Todd Graham matured him as a man. That has helped 

"I couldn't thank Coach Graham and his staff and Coach Griz and his staff enough,” Douglas said. “The things they have put us through that have helped me be prepared for what I'm going through. Granted, it is a different level, and it is a business, but them training us the way that they do on and off the field, it's helped me a great amount."

Things weren't always so promising for Douglas. In fact, at one point, his football career was in jeopardy.

Just months after coming to Tempe as a member of ASU's 2010 recruiting class, Douglas and teammate Lee Adams were arrested for second degree burglary after stealing electronics from dorm rooms. Among the robbery victims was teammate Alex Garoutte. Douglas was suspended indefinitely from the team by then-head coach Dennis Erickson, placed on probation by ASU, and ultimately sentenced to perform 55 hours of community service.

Douglas' road to redemption was arduous, but it received a major assist when Graham took over the program following the 2011 season.

Embracing Graham's high-character teachings, Douglas blossomed into a standout on the field and in the classroom over the last three years. He grew into one of the team's top leaders and was named a captain as a senior in 2014. As he grew into an all-conference player, Douglas remained equally dedicated to his studies, and this past year he earned a spot on the All-Academic Pac-12 first team.

"When he came here, I was a young boy, 18, 19 years old, and they've seen me mature into a 23-year-old man,” Douglas said of Graham's impact. “It's a great feeling knowing that you go through adversity through college and you're able to put it behind you and make the best of it on and off the field."

Even after authoring one of the best on-field careers by a Sun Devil offensive lineman in recent memory, Douglas feels that earning his degree—becoming the first in his family to do so—as his most important accomplishment at ASU.

"I definitely am happy about back-to-back 10-win seasons, and being able to accomplish being all-conference, but the thing I'm most proud about is getting my degree,” Douglas said. “Being able to do that in three and a half years and do it in something I like, which is criminal justice, was big for me. I'm most proud about getting my education."

As Douglas closes this chapter of his life, he feels that living up to the new Sun Devil standard has him poised for great things.

"You come here and don't really know about the tradition of being a Sun Devil. By the time you leave here, it's clear what a Sun Devil is,” Douglas said. “Like Coach Graham always says, you are tough, you are disciplined, you battle through adversity, you're smart. I feel like I've gained all of that since I've been here, and it's helped me transition into this next journey in my life."

Douglas leaves the Arizona State program in much better shape than when he first arrived. The hard work put in by Douglas and his teammates helped propel ASU to back-to-back 10-win years and into a place as a playoff contender, now and in the future.

"They really are building a national powerhouse,” said Douglas. “Arizona State has always been that sleeping giant, but I don't think we're at that point anymore. When people see us on their schedule, they know they have to bring their A-game. That's the only way that they are going to beat us. I expect Arizona State to be in the college playoffs next year."

Years from now, ideally after a successful NFL career, Douglas hopes that Sun Devil fans look back on his career as the start of something great in Tempe.

"I just wanted to leave my best mark. I would love to for everyone to say great things about me,” Douglas said. “I would love people to know that I really took part in trying to change the program around, be the disciplined team, and set the foundation for the team that won a national championship."

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Douglas' favorite moments as a Sun Devil

"The one that tops any of them is beating UCLA down in LA for the Pac-12 South championship. The Notre Dame game this past season was something I have never seen at ASU, as far as how the crowd came out and supported us and the energy in the stadium. The USC comeback this past year. Fighting through the tough times with this team, it was a great year."

Thoughts on the 2014 season

"It was one of the best seasons that I've had at ASU. Battled through so much adversity with the team. We had guys get hurt, we got into close games and fought through it. I don't look at it like a letdown at all. To win 10 games in back-to-back seasons is hard. For that team to do that when no one gave us a chance to win five or six games is a big deal. If 10 wins means that next year they are in the playoff playing for the national championship, then I'm fine with that."

How the 2015 ASU offensive line will do

"I think they'll be fine. Coach (Chris) Thomsen is a great coach and knows how to adjust to players and get them to play to their full potential. I think they have guys like Evan Goodman who will step up and play for them. Billy McGehee will step up and play, and you have the three returning starters who are all great offensive linemen. I think the one with the breakout year with be Christian Westerman. With the intangibles that he possesses, how strong he is, and physical he plays, I think he's going to do great things."

The most random question he was asked at the Combine

"They ask a lot of different questions to see how you are going to respond to it, and also to see when you are uncomfortable, how you respond. I got a question from the Ravens saying that 'You're at practice, and you get into a fight with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. What do you do?' It's little stuff like that. Those aren't questions you can prep for, it's just based on how you are going to answer. They ask you 'If we were to cut you, why would you be cut?' Those are things that you have to sit down and think about before you answer."

And his answer...

"I told them that I'm not a punk, but I am going to make sure that I'm respected. Those are two guys that I admire for what they've done in the game and for the game, so I don't plan on being in a fight with them any time soon."