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Post Kolton Houston’s nightmare ends

Friday July 26, 2013

After three years in NCAA limbo, Georgia junior offensive lineman Kolton Houston finally got the word on Thursday that his eligibility had been restored – on his birthday, no less.

Houston’s story had become well-known among Georgia circles and went national earlier this year thanks to a segment on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. A misapplied shot after a surgery left trace amounts of a banned substance in Houston’s system. UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson presented evidence to the NCAA that Houston had not reused the substance, but the levels of the substance remained agonizingly just above the allowed threshold for several years. Houston even had unnecessary surgery to try to clear his body of the substance, but even that couldn’t clear him.

It had become questionable whether he’d ever get to play a down for Georgia, but Thursday’s good news means that he’ll finally be able to start his career.

Houston’s return will have immediate implications for Georgia’s offensive tackle rotation. Georgia might’ve been disappointed at the tackle spot on signing day back in February, but the addition of Houston is like adding a 4* prospect with the added bonus of three years of development within the system. Scout had Houston as the nation’s #6 guard prospect coming out of Buford in 2010. Had Houston been cleared a year earlier, he would have entered fall camp as the first-team right tackle. Georgia ended up having to use a true freshman, John Theus, at the position.

Now Theus has a year of experience, and Xzavier Ward has developed well enough to challenge Theus. Kenarious Gates is the incumbent left tackle with Mark Beard also available. So the depth chart is a little more muddled for Houston this year, and of course he hasn’t been able to do much work outside of spring practice. What it could do is open up the possibility of redshirting someone like Watts Dantzler who probably should have redshirted last season. OL coach Will Friend has to like the additional flexibility he’s been given, and I’m sure we’ll see Houston worked in during the season – possibly as soon as the North Texas game unless injuries require that he play sooner.

Houston might not be done with the NCAA yet. He enters 2013 with two years of eligibility remaining, but he’ll have the option of petitioning for an additional year after the 2014 season. We’d hope the NCAA wouldn’t take three years to grant that request.

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