DN90: Andrew Thomas’ Ben Cleveland story might’ve been the highlight of SEC Media Days

Georgia football-seniors-2020
Georgia’s Ben Cleveland had a lot to smile about going into and coming out of G-Day. The junior from Stephens County emerged from spring practice as the Bulldogs’ No. 1 right guard despite missing most of last season with a broken leg. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

The Georgia offensive line is one of the most heralded position groups in the country, and that’s just the way left tackle Andrew Thomas likes it.

“We like to be the driving force,” Thomas said this week at SEC Media Days. “We want to carry the team, and that’s why we work.”

Thomas has been challenged by UGA coach Kirby Smart to be a vocal leader, and extolling the virtues of hard work seems to be one of the biggest ways in which Thomas seeks to fulfill Smart’s wish – especially given the unfinished business facing UGA.

Thomas has apparently been outspoken about not letting compliments from fans and media distract his fellow linemen from the goals they’ve yet to achieve.

“I just remind them we haven’t won the national championship. We haven’t gotten to where we want to be; we haven’t won the Joe Moore Award [given to the nation’s top offensive line]. There’s a lot of work we still need to do to be the best.”

That attitude from Thomas might lead some to believe there’s no room for fun among the group, but that’s apparently not the case. Thomas allowed for a light-hearted moment this week when asked to share a favorite story about right guard Ben Cleveland.

Thomas’ story – which involves Cleveland’s creative usage of a knife — is the subject of this edition of DN90.

For what it’s worth, Cleveland has been open in the past about his intent to remain true to himself – even as he becomes a well-known player around the UGA campus.

“Obviously people can recognize me and stuff like that, but it’s one of them things, at the end of the day, I’m still a small town kid,” Cleveland said during spring practice. “One way or another – whichever way you like it – that’s what I’m going to be. I’m still going to go out and fish on the weekends. I’m going to do what redneck kids do. I don’t believe I’ll ever change that.”

UGA fans hope Cleveland stays true to his word. They don’t want “Big Ben” to ever change – a fun personality on what might become a truly great offensive line.

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