ATHENS — Ben Cleveland didn’t lead off any All-American or Outland Trophy lists during his time at Georgia, but the departing offensive lineman leaves a legacy as one of the most powerful and popular players in Bulldogs’ history.
The 6-foot-6, 354-pound Cleveland was as consistent and reliable as any SEC offensive lineman over the course of his career at UGA, with very few flags thrown in his direction and several short-yardage runs aimed in his direction.
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Cleveland, from Stephens County High School in Toccoa, Ga., has recently been projected as a third-round pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft per the NFL Draft Bible.
“I’ve been working out focusing on bigger, faster and stronger,” said Cleveland, who is on record at taking aim at the NFL combine bench press record of 49 repetitions of 225 pounds.
“I’m taking mobility and flexibility into that, as well. Those are keys to being successful.”
Cleveland has been a student of the game at UGA since his time under the tutelage of noted offensive line guru Sam Pittman along with current Bulldogs’ offensive line coach Matt Luke.
“I had to learn a lot, that redshirt year was extremely important,” Cleveland said, reflecting back on the 2016 season. “Ever after that, I haven’t always been as technically sound as I could have been, but it was a world better than it would have been, had they just thrown me in.”
Cleveland’s passion, power and prototypical build enabled him to work his way into the starting lineup as a redshirt freshman during the Bulldogs’ drive to the 2017 College Football Playoff.
Cleveland said he also benefitted from his leadership role last season while learning new techniques from Luke.
“A lot of his stuff was similar, and there were some things 180 degrees different,” Cleveland said. “So it was tough at times, but obviously he was the man in charge, so I do what he asks.
“I look at it that I have Coach Pittman’s and Coach Luke’s techniques in the toolbox, where if I found I can choose within works better against a certain technique, or find a happy medium between both of them.
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“Having two different coaching styles and techniques will 100 percent it will help me. It was good to go from one coach to another because that’s what I’m about to do in the next couple of months heading into the NFL.”
Cleveland, who will work out at the Georgia Pro Day on March 17, will be the featured guest on the Ingles On The Beat show at 7:30 p.m. on the DawgNation YouTube Channel.
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