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COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Embattled UGA lineman Houston cleared by NCAA; Gators to remove commerative Hernandez brick

UGA star OL recruit Kolton Houston has been testing positive for a steroid ever since he was administered it legitimately before shoulder surgery years ago. The only problem was it never left his system, meaning he continued to fail NCAA drug tests, making him ineligible to play. On Thursday, Houston was officially cleared by the NCAA after his latest test showed the steroid was finally out of his system.

UGA star OL recruit Kolton Houston has been testing positive for a steroid ever since he was administered it legitimately before shoulder surgery years ago. The only problem was it never left his system, meaning he continued to fail NCAA drug tests, making him ineligible to play. On Thursday, Houston was officially cleared by the NCAA after his latest test showed the steroid was finally out of his system.

ATHENS --- Three years after enrolling at Georgia, offensive lineman Kolton Houston is finally eligible to play college football.

Houston passed a recent NCAA drug screening and was placed on the Bulldogs’ active roster for the first time. The good news came Thursday on his birthday in a call from Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson.

“This is the best birthday present I’ve ever had,” Houston said in a statement. “I had almost reached the point where I thought this situation would never end. When I got the call, I broke down and cried for about 30 minutes. I had that much emotion stored up and it felt good to get it out. I’m ready now to show what I can do.”

The problem began in 2010 when Houston failed an NCAA random drug test and was ruled ineligible because of steroid use. Houston and the Georgia medical staff said a steroid injection after shoulder surgery resulted in the positive test.

For the next three years, Houston unsuccessfully tried multiple means, including surgery, to get the steroids out of his system until he passed the latest test.

“This has been a long and very complex case and we have tried to be advocates for Kolton throughout this three-year process,” Courson said. “We would like to thank the NCAA staff, as well as the members of the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports, who assisted with this case.

“There are a number of medical professionals who played key roles in this appeal, from physicians to pharmacists to biomedical researchers to drug toxicologists. This was truly a team effort.”

Houston, considered one of the top offensive line recruits coming out of high school, enters preseason practice with a shot at playing time.

“The big thing is that we’re just really happy for Kolton,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “We’re thankful for all the work Ron Courson put in and for those who kept believing, but mostly we’re happy for him. We don’t want to put any pressure on him like now he’s got to be a star. The bottom line is we’re happy he’ll be able to participate for Georgia. We’re glad it all worked out.”


Florida to remove brick celebrating Hernandez

The University of Florida continued to distance itself from Aaron Hernandez by announcing Thursday the school intends to remove a brick outside Ben Hill Griffith Stadium honoring the former All-American tight end for the Gators.

Hernandez has been charged in the June 26 murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd, and the school immediately began removing photographs and images of Hernandez from around the football facility. The brick outside the stadium commemorates Hernandez being named an All-American in 2009.

“We didn’t feel it was appropriate to celebrate Aaron Hernandez. We put together an immediate plan after the initial news broke to remove his likeness and name in various private and public areas in the facility, such as the South Endzone team area, locker room, football offices, Heavener Complex, Kornblau Lobby and the brick display entrance to the football facility,” the school said in a statement.

“We were able to implement some of the changes immediately and this (brick removal) was a more complex process to complete with our vendors. The plan was to have everything completed before the end of July.”

Hernandez won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end in 2009 and went on to become a fourth-round pick of the New England Patriots the following spring. The Patriots released Hernandez less than two hours after he was charged with Lloyd’s murder.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.