The NCAA has granted Georgia offensive lineman Kolton Houston a sixth year of eligibility. I am celebrating by eating some of this wonderful crow with all the trimmings, after I said on more than one occasion that it was unlikely that the boys in Indianapolis would suddenly decide to do the right thing vis-a-vis the senior from Buford and his peculiar circumstance.
You likely recall that Houston was injected with a banned substance, Nandralone, when he had surgery prior to ever enrolling in Athens. When he tested positive for it the NCAA took the wrong-headed, unscientific, and petty step of deciding that it would not clear him until the substance subsided in his system to below prohibited levels. This cost Houston three years of his college career, despite the scientific evidence clearly showing that he had not taken the substance voluntarily, nor been provided it more than once. It was a rare moment in which the UGA Athletic Association threw professional decorum aside to call NCAA B.S. exactly what it was: bureaucratic B.S. ESPN eventually got on the case, bringing much-deserved national attention to the issue. Houston's clearance to play was a great moment in recent Bulldog history, one which was delayed far too long.
Houston will now join fellow senior lineman John Theus and juniors Greg Pyke and Brandon Kublanow to give the 'Dawgs four returning starters on the offensive front in 2015. I expect that Kublanow will move over from guard to his natural center spot to replace the departing David Andrews. A host of solid candidates are available to replace him at one guard spot, including rising senior Hunter Long and rising sophomores Isaiah Wynn, Dyshon Sims, and Josh Cardiello.
In short, Georgia's offensive line was in decent shape for the coming season, but it now returns 80+ starts, including 4/5 of a unit whose members did not miss a single start this season, and were sorely overlooked in paving the way for a tailback unit which was likely going to be represented on the First Team All-SEC list whether by Todd Gurley or Nick Chubb. While both of those guys are all-world talents, this offensive line opened huge holes for them while allowing only 15 sacks, among the best in the league.
There was reason to be optimistic about the Bulldog offensive line in 2015. Houston's return solidifies the unit as a clear strength. Plus it makes us all feel really, really good. Congrats, Kolton, and . . .