ATHENS — Kolton Houston is listed as a senior on the Georgia football roster and he is approaching the 2014 season as if it will be his last.
But there remains the possibility that Houston could be back with the Bulldogs for another year. He could petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility. He just won’t know if that will be an option for several months.
“From what I understand, that comes at the end of the season around bowl week,” said Houston, an offensive lineman from Buford. “That’s when all that kind of stuff happens. So I know for a fact I have to treat this year like my senior year. When bowl week gets here, that’s when I get to think about all that.”
Houston was ineligible to play for Georgia his first three seasons in Athens because he tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance as an early-enrolled freshman and was unable to purge the chemicals from his body. After finally achieving what the NCAA deemed was “an acceptable threshold” of the substance in his system, Houston’s eligibility was reinstated in July of 2013. He played in all 13 games last season, starting six.
UGA has always argued that Houston was wronged by the NCAA. It maintains that the steroids he took as a high school senior were administered by a doctor as treatment of a shoulder injury and improperly injected into an area of fatty tissue from which it could not dissipate.
Regardless of whether the NCAA would grant Houston a sixth year, he could decide to move on anyway. He turned 23 last month and will graduate from UGA this year with a degree in financial planning. And if things go well this season, the NFL draft is always an option for the 6-foot-5, 287-pound athlete.
“It’s not about a draft evaluation,” Houston said. “I’m just going to see how it goes. I’m going to do what’s best for me and for Georgia. That’s a long ways from now so we’ll just see how it goes.”
In the meantime, Houston is focusing on the present, which is preparing for the Bulldogs Aug. 30 opener against Clemson. Where he might line up remains undecided. He has worked with Georgia’s No. 1 offense at right tackle, left tackle and left guard during preseason camp. He’s generally considered one of the Bulldogs’ top five linemen and odds are that he’ll start somewhere.
“I’ve done all three of those so far this camp,” Houston said. “You know how it is with Coach (Will) Friend. We’re just going to play musical chairs until he finds the right gel. Right now, all of us tackles, me, Watts (Dantzler), Mark (Beard) and John (Theus), we’re all playing pretty good right now. Not trying to be cocky, but we’re all doing good things. So it’s not really set in stone who’s going to be the guys and where it’s all going to lay out. But it’s definitely going well.”