By Doug Gorman
Former Jonesboro wide receiver Harry Douglas is coming home-litterally.
Douglas, who turned into quarterback Brian Brohms' go-to wide receiver at the University of Louisville, was drafted Sunday by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round with the 84th overall pick.
Douglas' selection completes a busy, but happy weekend for his family. On Friday, younger brother Toney, who is the starting point guard on the Florida State basketball team, graduated with a degree in Social Sciences. Toney still has one year of eligibility left with the Seminoles before embarking on a career in the NBA.
The former Jonesboro standout will be remembered for helping lift Louisville from a mediocre football team to one that now competes in the national spot light.
"When we came in to Louisville in 2003, it was on the up-rise, but look where it is now," Douglas said. "It competes for titles and goes to bowl games."
During his early high school days, Harry Douglas was known more for his ability to dribble and shoot the basketball, and many of the so-called experts thought his ticket to athletic stardom was on the court, not the gridiron.
As a senior, he helped lead Jonesboro to the state championship basketball game where it lost to Wheeler.
Toney and Harry teamed up for their state championship basketball run with Darrell Robertson and Jamal Lewis, who went on to stellar football careers at Georgia Tech, and were waiting out their own draft selections on Sunday.
"That was a special time back in Jonesboro," Douglas said. "That's what I am going to tell my kids and grand kids about."
Former Jonesboro basketball coach Mack Cain, who is now the boys basketball coach and A.D. at Northgate High School, coached the athletic group and knew their was something special about the group the moment he met them.
"Character is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about these kids," Cain said. "There was just something special about this group. They were great athletes, but they also had great work ethic."
Douglas didn't step on the gridiron at Jonesboro until his junior season, but helped lead the Cardinals to some of their best football moments in school history. During the 2002 season, Douglas' senior year, Jonesboro went 7-4 and made the playoffs.
The team hasn't made the playoffs since.
Even though his football experience was limited, his speed and ability to catch anything thrown in his direction, drew the attention of Louisville.
One he arrived on campus, some questioned whether at 5-feet, 11- inches, he was too short to play major college football.
Douglas proved the critics wrong, becoming a key part of the Cardinals' offense, especially during his final two seasons as his reception totals increased each year.
"I always believed in myself, and my family believed in me, all my coaches at Jonesboro, (Mack) Cain, (Dan) Maehlman and coach (Arlen) Batia believed in me. I just wanted to out there and prove all the critics wrong," Douglas said.
As a freshman, Douglas only caught five passes. As a sophomore, he increased those numbers to 27, with two TDs, but by his junior year, he was one of the Big East Conference's most prolific wide receivers, hauling in 70 passes for 1,265 yards and six TDs.
Last year, Douglas caught 71 passes, for 1,159 yards and seven TDs.
During his junior season, Douglas led the Cardinals to a 12-1 season and a 24-13 victory over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl.
Douglas also took care of business in the class room, earning a degree in Political Science before his final year of eligibility even began.
The newest member of the Atlanta Falcons spent time this past summer working in several law firms in Louisville.
Along the way, he earned many academic accolades to go along with his on-the-field awards.
No one is prouder than his father, Harry II, who has been the guiding force behind his sons' athletic careers.
" He is probably going to put a lot of fans in the stands, because he is well known in the metro area. (Falcons owner) Arthur (Blank) needs to get ready to print some No. 85 jerseys because they are going to sell like hot cakes.," Harry II said about his son. "It shows what kind of kid he really is. He wants to be a lawyer some day. He could be the commissioner of the N FL one day."
If everything goes as planned, Douglas could one day be hauling in touchdown passes from another former Southern Crescent product, D.J. Shockley.
Shockley, who played football quarterback at North Clayton and the University of Georgia, is in his second year with the Falcons.
"It says a whole lot about the kids that come out of this area," Harry II said.