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Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland is competing for playing time entering his fifth season with the Bulldogs as a redshirt senior.

Ben Cleveland: Georgia football quarterback competition ‘creates a good vibe on the team’

ATHENS —Ben Cleveland has been around Georgia football long enough to have a feel for training camp, and the fifth-year senior is ready to hunker down.

“Right now it’s really just about going out here to compete and seeing who really wants to fight for that starting job,” Cleveland said on a Thursday Zoom call with reporters.

“I don’t think anything is set in stone yet, there’s still good competition going on at all levels of the depth chart at all position,” Cleveland said. “We have guys working from left to right, from ones to twos. I feel like that will continue up to game week.”

And, knowing Kirby Smart, the competition will continue into the season even after Georgia football opens at Arkansas on Sept. 26.

Ben Cleveland, Sept. 10, 2020

Cleveland looks to be in a dogfight at right guard with Warren Ericson and Clay Webb.

Ericson made his first career start in the Sugar Bowl with Cleveland not in attendance on account of a suspension.

“I think my dad let the whole wide world know I wasn’t academically eligible, I still haven’t heard the end of that one from the coaches and everybody,” Cleveland said. “It definitely wasn’t a decision I made on my own to skip out on my team like that.”

Cleveland said he looks back and realizes he should have taken his studies more seriously. He said he passed 18 credits in the spring and 12 this fall.

But Cleveland is also thankful for all of the friendships and relationships with players and coaches over the years.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it hard to get many of the newer and younger players, Cleveland said, but the Bulldogs have been working well together.

“It was difficult not having the spring ball, so it put a lot of stress on all of us to learn this new offense and pick up on everything in a lot shorter time than we would normally have,” Cleveland said.

“But I think our guys have handled it extremely well. We’ve been progressing every single day, so I think we are way ahead from where most people think we should be right now.”

Cleveland was obviously good friends with departed three-year starting quarterback Jake Fromm.

But he said the new quarterback competition has been healthy for the team.

“I think there’s always an excitement when you have competition going on like we’ve got,” Cleveland said. “You to see different guys coming in every day and rep with the ones, and the twos and the threes, so it creates a good vibe on the team.”

As for the offense, Cleveland didn’t same to make too much out of Todd Monken’s new offensive scheme.

“It’s always a happy balance, you’ve got to be able to run the ball to throw the ball, and you’ve got to be able to throw the ball to run the ball,” Cleveland said. “That’s kind of been our philosophy since I’ve been here, to do what we can in the run game and throw it when we need to, and run it when we need to. I feel that’s  served us pretty well over the last few years.

“I definitely think there’s a happy medium and good balance that comes with that,” Cleveland said. “I think we’re doing everything we can to balance that out and give us some good options.”

 

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