UGA's Houston reportedly failed drug test

semerson@macon.comApril 26, 2011 

ATHENS -- Just days before he’s expected to be picked early in the NFL draft, a report emerged that former Georgia linebacker Justin Houston tested positive for marijuana at the NFL combine in February.

FOX Sports reported that Houston and Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard both tested positive. Pro Football Weekly later reported that Florida offensive lineman Maurice Hurt, a former Baldwin standout, also tested positive for marijuana.

The positive tests would have been known to NFL teams since just after the combine but just became public Tuesday.

“If it is true, I’m in shock,” said Steve Pennington, who coached Houston during his high school career at Statesboro. “And disappointed in him and for him.”¿

Houston left Georgia after his junior season, when he had 10 sacks to lead the SEC during the regular season. He is projected as a late first-round or early second-round pick.

The failed drug test isn’t good news, but it’s also not necessarily devastating. Calvin Johnson also reportedly tested positive for marijuana before the 2007 draft but was still picked second overall. Florida’s Percy Harvin also reportedly tested positive before the 2009 draft but was taken in the first round.

Still, Houston’s position as a first-round pick is now more precarious.

“If it is true, and that’s a big if, you only get one chance to make a first impression,” Pennington said. “That’s something that I think Justin will have to work extra hard to prove his trust and accountability to whomever selects him.”¿

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