Stephens County lineman Ben Cleveland committed to UGA on Dawg Night in 2015. He did so at the same time as 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason. They were the first two commitments in UGA’s recruiting class for 2016.
What else is there to know about Cleveland? Read on.
5 THINGS ON BEN “BIG COUNTRY” CLEVELAND
1. Solid? His commitment is titanium
The fact he will enroll early is well-known but Cleveland told the AJC in July that he had not gotten even a single communication (Facebook, text message or Twitter) from a non-UGA coach in about six months. Nobody’s moving him away from UGA. No other SEC school is even trying to, it seems.
Auburn and South Carolina were the other schools he was considering, but they both seemed too far away to him. They were tied for second place, he said.
“But then they weren’t Georgia, either,” Cleveland said.
2. A “Bigger Ben” has been eating his spinach
His bench press is now 450 pounds. That’s up from 425. His power clean is now approaching Toyota Prius territory at 355 pounds. That’s another 15-pound increase.
3. He feels he’s a natural left tackle
The coaches at UGA have peppered him with the playbook. Every time he makes a trip to Athens, he will sit in on the offensive line meetings. He feels like he is being prepared to play right away.
“I think I play better at left tackle because I am a left-handed person so I guess you can say I am a little bit more coordinated on the left side than the right side. I think I will be able to perform better on the left side.”
Analysts out there feel he would also be a tremendous asset for UGA at guard even despite his height.
4. World-class perspective on life
His goal is to play in the NFL, but he’s extremely grounded.
“No matter where this train takes me and ends at I will never be able to complain about any of it,” he said. “It has been nothing but an honor and a blessing from God. I’ve had experiences that some people will never be able to get to experience in their lives even if I don’t make it to the NFL. That’s what I hope to do, but even if I don’t I know I will not have the first thing to complain about.”
5. He’s worn a UGA nametag that says “Big Ben” Cleveland
He’s been called “Big Country” over the last few years because of his Southern accent and affinity to set up in a tree stand or throw a line in the water.
Yet when he visited Athens for a camp back in June he had a Georgia “G” lanyard with “Big Ben” Cleveland inscribed on it.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.