If Georgia fifth-year senior right tackle Kolton Houston gets beat off the edge in practice and gives up a sack, he doesn't bow his head.
Losing a one-on-one matchup can't come close to the disappointment he was experiencing this time last year.
"I didn't even do spring practice," Houston said by phone following Friday's workout. "I just kind of hung out and came to practice and came to meetings, but I didn't participate in practice because I thought it was over."
Houston was an early enrollee in Georgia's 2010 class but was ruled ineligible as a result of routine NCAA drug testing that repeatedly detected a banned substance. That substance, a steroid called Norandrolone, had been medically administered following shoulder surgery while he was at Buford High School near Atlanta.
Georgia had unsuccessful attempts at appealing Houston's suspension, and it wasn't until last July that he was reinstated by the NCAA.
"It's been a lot more fun than the past three springs," said Houston, who can appeal for a sixth season later this year. "It's nice to be able to know that I've got a goal I can work toward now, and it's also been more fun having a new defense out there and the energy that they are bringing every day. "
Friday was the sixth spring practice for the Bulldogs, who will scrimmage for the first time today.
The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Houston wound up appearing in all 13 games last season and also made six starts, with five at right tackle and one at left guard. He has been holding the top spot at right tackle over former Dalton High standout Watts Dantzler, who suffered a concussion earlier this week and sat out Friday.
Houston said the toughest opponent he faced last season was Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, and he's not lacking for challenges now.
"He's got quite a matchup most of the time dealing with Leonard Floyd, and that's going to make him better," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said. "I think he's stronger than he's been in a while. I think he's more focused, obviously."
Said Houston: "Leonard is an incredible athlete. If you don't come 100 percent every single play, he will embarrass you."
Richt is hoping Houston can combat the pass-rushing predators this fall at 290 or 295 pounds, which is Houston's goal as well.
"I've got to get in the weight room and eat six meals a day," Houston said, "or at least five."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...