His reaction was understandable. He's nervous.
''I'm going to try and not think too much about it,'' he said. ''But it's getting closer and closer, so it'll be sticking more in my mind.''
Looking ahead to his first starting assignment since he was a high school senior, he added: ''I'll be a little nervous, but I'll probably be all right after a couple of plays.''
Houston has split practice time all preseason with fellow sophomores Jabari Davis and Derrick Tinsley, plus redshirt freshman Keldrick Williams and true freshman Gerald Riggs, Jr. All of them have looked good at times. Houston admitted being ''a little surprised'' to get the starting nod, adding: ''I figured we'd just keep rotating in and out.''
Asked what he brings to the lineup, the 6-foot, 220-pounder replied: ''A little balance, speed, power ... a combination of all three.''
Although the competition for the starting tailback job has been intense, Houston said all of the candidates get along quite well.
''We get along great,'' he said with a laugh. ''We joke around a lot. On the field, we're competing but we're really NOT competing. We're helping each other out. We get along really well.''
Although Houston will get the first shot, he doesn't exactly have a tight grip on the tailback job. At least three other Vols will see action at the position, as well.
''All of them are going to play and all of them are going to get a chance to see where they are,'' head coach Phillip Fulmer said. ''As the season goes along, we'll sure need 'em all.... I wish we had that kind of depth and ability at every position.''
Senior Troy Fleming, who is the No. 1 fullback, also will see some action at tailback.
''The most established player is Troy Fleming,'' Fulmer said. ''We're asking him to do a lot of things. He's done real well with that role -- leader, receiver, blocker and runner.... Troy can do it all.''