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Daily Buzz: A long road back

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Sam Gardner

Sam Gardner is a general assignment writer for FOXSports.com. Originally from Orlando, Fla., he previously covered the Orlando Magic for FOX Sports Florida and has also covered the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals and MLB playoffs. Follow him on Twitter.

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Kolton Houston still hasn’t played a regular-season down for the University of Georgia, but after a tenuous 3-1/2-year battle with the NCAA, the Bulldogs offensive lineman will finally be eligible to take the field when the season starts this Fall.

Houston's journey began in 2010, when the Buford, Ga., native and son of former Bulldogs linebacker Shane Houston failed a random drug test shortly after enrolling at Georgia. The younger Houston was shown to have the anabolic steroid 19-norandrosterone in his system, the presence of which earned him a suspension.

That suspension was later replaced with the threat a lifetime ban after failing a second NCAA test, but there was a problem bigger than a series of failed drug tests. Houston wasn’t using performance enhancing drugs, and he wasn’t sure why these tests kept coming up positive.

As it turned out, the positive tests were linked to a professionally administered steroid injection following surgery before Houston was ever enrolled at Georgia. The steroid was stuck in his system — likely a result of poor aim by the doctor who administered it — with seemingly no way of getting it out.

For years, Houston and the Bulldogs medical team have contended that Houston was not using the drug, all while Houston continued to fail regular drug screenings. And for years — and over the course of dozens more drug tests — that meant nothing to the NCAA, so long as the substance was still in his system.

According to ESPN, Houston "tried multiple methods of getting the drug out of his body through the years, including an aggressive massage regime, sweat therapy sessions and even surgery, where doctors removed the fatty tissue where the drug seemed to be concentrated." But nothing was providing the quick fix Houston desired.

Over time, and however slowly, Houston's steroid levels did continue to drop — the NCAA limit is 2.5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, and his original test showed 260 nanograms — and finally, on Thursday, Houston’s 22nd birthday, the good news came: He had been granted reinstatement after meeting the exit threshold in his latest NCAA drug screening.

“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 has two years of eligibility left, and could apply for a third if he so desired. But after three years of working to overturn a suspension for a steroid he wasn’t taking, there’s not much reason to believe that will be an easy task, either.

Now, for some links:

• A Waffle House is opening inside Turner Field on Friday.

• A-Rod's new gig — Maryland slumlord?

• Must be tough being Chris Bosh’s baby:

• So maybe Shaq isn't actually mentoring Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins.

• Andrew Bynum brought his Don King 'fro to Cleveland.

• Harrison Barnes dunked on poor, poor Ryan Anderson:

• Derrick Rose says Derrick Rose is the best player in the NBA.

• When he's not busy running for mayor of NYC and sexting women who aren't his wife, Anthony Weiner is a beer league hockey goalie.

• This woman is very upset about not getting any Redskins autographs:

• A newbie anchor fired for an on-air F-bomb during his first newscast is now working as a bartender at a beach bar.

• A South Carolina high school baseball coach was arrested for shoplifting two bats and a glove from a Wal-Mart.

• Yo, Blake Griffin, this is how you really jump over a car:

• Is there a West Point rugby scandal brewing?

• The Tampa Bay Rays and the city of St. Petersburg are finally negotiating a stadium exploration deal.

• Check out this awesome choreographed pole vaulting medal stand routine:

• Mazda is refurbishing Alfred Morris' 1991 Mazda 626.

• Here is the Notre Dame national championship shirt you would have seen had the Fightin' Irish not been steamrolled by Alabama in January's BCS title game.

• An AAU team wore “I am Trayvon” shirts to a tournament in Atlanta:

• Former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson reveals that he was sexually abused as a child.

• Metta World Peace says he's changing his name again this season.

• Darnell Dockett has a tiger, and he wants to bring it to training camp:

• Mark Buehrle made quick work of the Astros and flew through his media session because he had Tim McGraw tickets.

• Danica Patrick is dishing on her relationship with fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr..

• Dane De La Rosa took care of an injured bird during the Angels game Thursday:

• Grantland has an interesting feature on the redemption and rebranding of former Auburn running back Michael Dyer.

• Here are the full details of Jacob Karam's touching moment playing piano for an 11-year-old leukemia patient.

• An independent league shortstop handled a wild ricochet off of second base to get the out:

Tagged: Florida Atlantic, Nebraska, Houston, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Alfred Morris, Kenny Anderson, Kolton Houston, Michael Dyer, Tim McGraw

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