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July 25, 2013

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Kolton Houston could not have received a better birthday present Thursday.

Earlier today, the former Buford standout received the word he'd been longing to hear, that he had been granted reinstatement by the NCAA to resume his collegiate football career.

A junior, Houston has two years of eligibility remaining and could petition for a third year following his fifth year of school at Georgia if he chooses to do so.

"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."

Houston was declared ineligible in January of 2010, his first semester at Georgia, following routine NCAA drug testing which detected a banned substance. The substance was later determined to have been medically administered following shoulder surgery while Houston was in high school.

Houston met the exit threshold following his most recent NCAA drug screening.

"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, who has fought for the player's reinstatement from the beginning. "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."

Head coach Mark Richt was naturally pleased.

"The big thing is that we're just really happy for Kolton," 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."

So what about playing time this fall?

In Georgia's post-spring depth chart, Houston was listed as the team's No. 4 left tackle, although in the past he has practiced at right tackle and also at guard.

Courson hopes the Houston situation will serve as a reminder to other young athletes.

"I hope that all student-athletes will take note of this case and use extreme caution when taking supplements or medications of any kind, ensuring beforehand that they are safe and permissible," said Courson.

Houston is scheduled to meet with the media Friday morning.

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