UGA’s Houston finally gets to ‘practice with a purpose’

After Kolton Houston was cleared by the NCAA to play football last month, he said the thing he most looked forward to was being able to “practice with a purpose again.”

Houston finally got to do that Thursday afternoon. Houston was among 105 Georgia players who trotted onto Woodruff Practice Fields for the first of 29 preseason workouts between now and the Bulldogs’ Aug. 31 opener at Clemson. Houston’s last meaningful practice — when he knew for certain he was preparing for a game — came as a senior at Buford High.

Now a junior in college, Houston was declared ineligible to participate by the NCAA soon after arriving at UGA as a midyear freshman enrollee in January 2010. Houston failed the NCAA’s initial test for banned substances and continued to test above the acceptable limit until late last month.

“The fact that we’re not wondering any more is a great thing for him and for us,” Richt said at Georgia’s preseason media-day news conference Thursday.

Houston opened Thursday’s practice working behind Dallas Lee at No. 2 left guard. While appealing his suspension, Houston worked his way to the top of the depth chart at right guard and then at right tackle by the end of spring practices in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

“He’s going to cross train (at guard and tackle),” Richt said. “He’ll know the right-guard position, too, and he’s athletic enough to play tackle as well. We don’t want to give him too much, but Day 1 he’s sitting at No. 2 left guard right now.”

No more 'Gurshall': Who knew that Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall didn't like being referred to as "Gurshall"? That revelation came out Thursday as the two tailbacks were interviewed separately by reporters at UGA's preseason media day.

“I don’t like it at all,” Gurley said succinctly. “I just don’t.”

Said Marshall: “Football-wise it doesn’t bother me. But I don’t really like being called (Gurshall) outside of that.”

It was a novel idea created by Georgia fans in deference to legendary tailback Herschel Walker. Splitting time as freshmen last season, Gurley and Marshall combined to surpass Walker’s freshman statistics of 1,616 yards (then an NCAA record) and 15 touchdowns in 1980. Together, Gurley and Marshall rushed for 2,144 yards and 25 touchdowns last season, with Gurley accounting for 1,385 yards.

Clowney not that great: The Jadeveon Clowney-is-great talk came up again Thursday. Richt was asked to clarify what he said Monday night at a UGA Day gathering, and several players were asked about it during prepractice interviews.

Richt tempered his remarks Thursday.

“I think I said he might be the best one on the planet, and it became news,” Richt said with a laugh. “I think he’s the best college football player in America. There are a couple of other guys you could debate on that. But if you give him a couple of years of him learning in the NFL, my bet is he’ll be one of the best if not the best before his career is over in that league. That might be a better way of saying it.”

Junior linebacker Amarlo Herrera didn’t mince words at all. He doesn’t think Clowney is even the best player in college football. “I don’t think he is. Not in my opinion. Johnny Manziel is. He’s the best athlete in football, the best player. He’s got the Heisman.”

No disciplinary updates: Richt said "not yet" when asked if he was prepared to reveal the disciplinary decision on placekicker Marshall Morgan. The Bulldogs are expected to suspend Morgan for at least the first game because of his July 2 arrest for boating under the influence. Morgan practiced Thursday.

Meanwhile, senior offensive guard Austin Long did not practice while he’s “finishing up academics.” Long may be ineligible this season pending the outcome of his situation.

Practice observations: Freshman wide receiver Tramel Terry looks like he'll be able to compete earlier than expected. The reigning Mr. Football of South Carolina (Goose Creek) suffered an ACL injury playing in a high school all-star game in December and was expected to be limited the first part of this season. But he practiced without limitations Thursday, wearing only a small brace on his left knee. … Junior wide receiver Michael Bennett (right knee) also was going full speed in his first practice with the team since undergoing knee reconstruction last fall. … Sophomore John Theus, who came out of the spring No. 2 at right tackle behind Xzavier Ward, was back with the first team at the spot Thursday. … Freshmen outside linebacker Davin Bellamy (shoulder surgery) and safety Shaquille Fluker (hamstring strain) were limited and wearing green jerseys because of injuries.