5 QUESTIONS WITH KOLTON HOUSTON
ATHENS – Kolton Houston is the rarest of breeds, and that’s saying nothing of his unique and fun-loving personality. He’s the rarefied Sixth-Year Man, and he’s back to start at right tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs this fall.
And while he has been around a very long time — since arriving as midyear enrollee of January 2010 — it is a very different Kolton Houston who will suit up in the No. 75 jersey Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. Of course, at the ripe old age of 24, he is wiser and more mature. But he’s also bigger and stronger. And more determined.
“He’s been through a lot,” starting left tackle and close friend John Theus said this week. “He’s been through a 6-6 season and he’s gone to the SEC championship game. So he’s seen a lot. And I think he’s approaching it with a great attitude. He’s become a lot more vocal. Obviously he’s a leader out there and he knows that it takes to be a champion. Honestly, I think every guy on the team looks up to him.”
Houston was sidelined for three years while he fought the NCAA’s decision to give him a lifetime ban for repeatedly testing positive for steroids. Houston and UGA’s Ron Courson, the director of sports medicine, appealed on the ground s that they said the steroids were medically administered into an area of the body that would not allow it to dissipate. The NCAA’s decision was finally overturned on appeal on Houston’s 22nd birthday shortly before the 2013 season.
“Kolton’s definitely been through a lot,” Theus said. “I don’t think people realize how much of a process it was he went through with his situation. I know I didn’t realize how tedious it was. But he knows he’s been blessed with this opportunity and I think that’s how he’s looking at it.”
Here’s five questions with Houston as the Bulldogs get set to kick off the 2015 season on Saturday at Sanford Stadium:
1. What’s your mindset as you get ready to embark on a sixth year at Georgia? Do you feel more relaxed?
Houston: “I wouldn’t say relaxed. I’ve probably put a lot more stress on myself. I didn’t come back to go 9-3 or 10-2. I came back to win it all. So it’s sort of win it all or bust for me. That’s the mindset I’m taking.”
2. You seem bigger this season. Is that true?
Houston: “I’m right at 300 pounds right now. That’s where I’ve wanted to be for like the past two years, so I’ve finally gotten there. I had sort of a diet to put on weight. It was more of a meal plan that was sort of a scheduled thing. So I finally got there.”
3. You guys have a new quarterback this season. What should we expect the offense to look like?
Houston: “You’re still going to see the same thing. We’re going to try to run the ball. Even if they load the box we’re going to try to establish a run game. We’re going to build our passing game from there. So you can expect a tough, physical run-based offense.”
4. You guys return four of five starters on the line, and everybody describes the newbie, Isaiah Wynn, as a budding all-star. What’s the expectation as far as rotation and depth.
Houston: “Yeah, Isaiah’s a baller. You won’t have to worry about him. We’re a veteran line, but one thing that you get with veteran offensive linemen is the risk of injury goes up. We’re all older guys. The sixth man has to be ready to go. Coach (Rob) Sale has made an emphasis that, especially early in the season, he’s going to want to roll some guys. So those sixth and seventh guys are going to have to be ready. They’re going to play some good snaps in those first couple of ballgames.”
5. You actually played last season as a senior not knowing whether or not you’d come back. What do you think now?
Houston: “Time has definitely flown. Last year I kept it in the back of my mind. I tried to attack last season like that was going to be my last year, but really it never fully kicked in. In the back of my mind, I was always planning for this year. It’s a little more surreal now. It’s kind of amazing.”