Finally, Kolton Houston will get to play football for the Georgia Bulldogs.
The offensive lineman has been serving a suspension since 2010, his first year in Athens, because he tested positive for 19-Norandrosterone, a drug on the NCAA’s banned substance list. According to a previous report from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Houston took the drug to aid in the healing of a shoulder injury while he was in high school in 2009 and had not taken it since. However, for some inexplicable reason, the drug continued to show up in testing and Houston continued to serve out a suspension.
In any case, Houston met the exit threshold following his most recent NCAA drug screening. The Bulldogs announced on Thursday that the lineman is officially good to go.
“This has been a long and very complex case and we have tried to be advocates for Kolton throughout this three-year process,” said UGA Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Ron Courson. “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 now has two years of eligibility remaining and could possibly be granted a third.
“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.”
And, as it just so happened, Houston received the news on his 22nd birthday. Best present ever?
In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona. Nearly five months later?
Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season. No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.
The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.
Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.
A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.
For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly. Somewhat.
In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”
“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”
“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.
The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service. While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.
After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.
Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.
It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.
Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently. SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.
The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.
The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.
A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.
The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.
Thanks to how they finished the 2016 season, USC is getting substantial preseason love heading into the 2017 season. Not surprisingly, that affection continued Wednesday.
At the Pac-12 Media Days Wednesday, 28 of the 52 media members covering the conference picked USC to win the league’s title this season. Another 22 picked reigning champion Washington to defend its title, while there was one vote each for Oregon and Utah.
Both USC and UW received 49 first-place votes when it comes to winning the South and North divisions, respectively. Oregon, Stanford and Washington State received one first-place vote each to win the North Division, while Colorado, UCLA and Utah received the same for the South crown.
Also of note from the opening of media days:
- The Pac-12 Championship Game will remain at Levi’s Stadium through the 2019 season, with an option for 2020 as well. The home of the San Francisco 49ers has been the venue for the conference’s last two title games. New NFL stadiums in Inglewood and Las Vegas will be options beyond that.
- Halftime of games broadcasted on Pac-12 Networks will be reduced from 20 minutes to 15. In an attempt to further shorten the length of games, commercial breaks during those games will be reduced as well. “We are trying to be progressive and experiment with ways to manage the game presentation through a reduction of TV timeouts and some of the 30-second commercial spots,” commissioner Larry Scott said as the league targets three hours as the ideal game time.
- The conference has centralized its replay reviews for all 12 teams this season after experimenting with centralization for two teams in 2016.