UGA’s Houston glad to be back in mix at right tackle

Kolton Houston said he has tried to think about what it might be like when he finally trots out on the field for Georgia’s opener at Clemson’s Memorial Stadium on Aug. 31. But he still can’t quite wrap his head around it.

“It’s hard to really picture it,” said the junior offensive lineman, now three weeks removed from NCAA exoneration. “I’ve envisioned it a couple of different ways, but I think when that time comes, I’m just going to be so overloaded with joy. It’s hard to explain.”

Houston had been under NCAA suspension since January 2010, when an anabolic steroid was discovered in his system after a routine drug test. Houston and UGA appealed his suspension for three years on the claim that the steroids had been administered by a doctor in a medical procedure and there had been no re-use. Houston was granted reinstatement by the NCAA on July 24th, about one week before the Bulldogs opened 2013 preseason camp.

Houston has been a busy Bulldog ever since. Just a third of the way through camp, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Buford resident has worked his way back into the playing rotation. He is challenging incumbent John Theus for the starting job at right tackle.

Houston actually was the starting right tackle when he last practiced in a competitive situation during the 2012 spring practice. He started camp as a backup at left guard, then moved to the right side and has since bounced between guard and tackle.

“These past four or five practices, it’s been me at right tackle,” Houston said. “That’s where I finished so I feel good there. With my weight I feel I can play on the edge, so I’m comfortable out there. But I’m comfortable on the inside, too. It really doesn’t matter to me. Football’s football.”

Given the travails of the last three years, Houston’s care-free attitude is understandable. Monday was his first opportunity to talk to reporters since the initial news of his reinstatement became a national story. He said the outpouring of support he has received from letters, emails and phone calls to comments on social media has been overwhelming.

“It’s comforting to know that people have my back across the country and are pulling for me,” he said.

Etc.: Georgia held a special-teams scrimmage Monday evening at Sanford Stadium. Coach Mark Richt opened his post-practice remarks by saying he'd have no announcements regarding placekicker Marshall Morgan or offensive lineman Austin Long. Morgan, a sophomore, is facing suspension after pleading guilty to boating under the influence. Long, a senior, is appealing an academic matter that could result in ineligibility. … Outside linebackers Davin Bellamy (thumb), James DeLoach (thumb) and Leonard Floyd (hand) returned to practice Monday. … Receivers Reggie Davis (knee sprain) and Rhett McGowan (ankle sprain) were among 14 players on Monday's injury report.

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