July 10th, 2014
The Football Writers Association of America named Georgia tackle Kolton Houston to the Lombardi Award watchlist yesterday. The award is given annually to the nation's most outstanding lineman or linebacker. Last year Chris Burnette was named to the watchlist which also recognizes its winner for their discipline on and off the field. Georgia's only winner was David Pollack in 2003. Houston is one of nearly 100 players named for the 44 year old award which will begin narrowing the list down in November. The award will be presented in December by the Rotary Club of Houston.
|(photo credit: Radi Nabulsi)|
Just a year ago this would have seemed impossible. Houston was sitting in NCAA purgatory, waiting for his levels of norandrolone to meet acceptable levels. Norandrolone is a steroid that was put into Houston's body while in high school after shoulder surgery. The steroid has been trapped in his shoulder ever since, leading Huston to try numerous alternative treatments to rid himself of the steroid. Despite evidence that he was not continuing to use the drug and that it wasn't providing any unnatural benefit, the NCAA continued to force Houston to sit, even as his story gained national attention.
Just as it seemed the lineman from Buford GA would never be able to play college football, Georgia Strength and Conditioning coach Joe Tereshinski had an impromptu and private meeting with NCAA president Mark Emmert. The summit lasted an entire week and neither party has come forward with any details of the events that took place, other than to say that Emmert now has acceptable form for a squat. And that Mr. Houston's eligibility was restored, effective immediately.
After working into the rotation for the LSU game (and sealing the edge on the winning touchdown run by Keith Marshall), Houston really came on strong and bolstered Coach Friend's offensive line through numerous nagging injuries. Before the Florida game Houston was named the starter and celebrated the personal milestone by playing all 82 snaps and keeping Aaron Murray's jersey clean throughout. All in all it was more than enough to justify Houston and the Athletic Department's long fight for his eligibility. Fans, coaches and players alike were thrilled.
Georgia opens its season on August 30th in Athens against Clemson. It is expected that Kolton Houston, now a senior who's unique and tormented past is firmly in the rear view mirror, will start at right tackle. And Georgia fans wouldn't have it any other way.