Ben Cleveland is going to play football for UGA. The massive 4-star offensive lineman will fly out to the Army All-American game on Jan. 3. He will then grab a return flight to Atlanta on Jan. 10 and move in at UGA.
Who else will join him? Cleveland is a smart young man. He realizes the attention that was on the prospects who were on their officials visits at UGA this weekend. A lot of it had to do with 5-star quarterback Jacob Eason. Is he still solid to UGA? He was measured enough in his comments to address that situation carefully. He said two key things in relation to Eason.
- “I’m not going to get too into this, but I still feel pretty confident that he is going to be coming to UGA in January,” Cleveland said. “That’s up to him and his parents to make that final decision ultimately, but I still have pretty high confidence in it.”
- “I think Georgia definitely did everything it could to kind of reassure that commitment,” Cleveland said. “Right now it is just up to him and his family to make that ultimate decision.”
He still believes Eason’s decision is also coming up by the middle of next week.
The nation’s No. 1 quarterback was with three potential members of his offensive line this week at UGA. Cleveland told DawgNation “he’d be scared to count up all the pictures that people took” of himself and other recruits on campus. He said it was like he was hanging out with the President of the United States or another celebrity.
Cleveland’s visit is also of high interest. The 4-star offensive lineman got to eat as many rib-eye steaks as he wanted to on Saturday night in the President’s Box at Sanford Stadium. Cleveland and the rest of the recruits also got to meet new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and spend the bulk of two days with him.
The 6-foot-7 offensive tackle even spent about 10 minutes on the phone with his new offensive line coach Sam Pittman, too. He wasn’t in Athens, but Cleveland expects him to be in Athens on Tuesday.
“This was definitely the best visit I have ever taken to the Georgia and I’ve been on a lot of them,” he said. “The highlight of the weekend for me was getting back together with everybody. It has been a while since we have been able to get everybody under the same roof at the same time.”
A lot of the focus will be on Eason’s impressions. That’s natural given his status as a 5-star quarterback and rating as the nation’s No. 1 QB. Yet 4-star tackle Willie Allen — an uncommitted recruit — is seen as another must-sign for UGA. The cupboard needs restocking at offensive tackle.
“We didn’t talk too much about his possible commitment,” Cleveland said. “He said he was going to wait until after the visit and talk with his folks to make sure. He wasn’t going to say anything until after that.”
Cleveland felt Allen enjoyed his visit, too. He said the weekend allowed the chance for all the commitments and potential signees to bond. He said he can see himself playing with Allen at UGA. He’d be at left tackle. Allen would be at right tackle. Or vice versa. The best man will decide who plays where.
“I think Willie will sit back and evaluate all of his officials,” Cleveland said. “But I feel we’ve got a pretty good shot here at Georgia to get him to come on, too.”
- No other staff positions were discussed. Cleveland’s impression was the wide receiver and tight end coaching positions would be decided with great input from Chaney.
- He said Chaney didn’t make a grand presentation to all the recruits of his vision for the offense at UGA. He said he went and shared those thoughts one-on-one with all the recruits and their families. He spent a lot of time Eason and his family.
- He wasn’t sure when Chaney would start working at UGA and was not sure if he would be coaching the quarterbacks yet at UGA. He thinks that Chaney and Pittman will place a premium of a big and powerful offensive line going forward.
- UGA linebackers coach Kevin Sherrer ate dinner and hung out with the recruits this weekend. It seems like an easy projection to think he has a place on Smart’s first coaching staff at UGA. He wouldn’t have been hanging around the recruits this weekend if he was not.
- He laughed at all the social media feedback regarding pictures of the recruits together. Allen and Cleveland were in UGA gear. Eason was not. “My gosh man,” Cleveland. “You can’t make a guy wear what you want him to wear. He’s got his own clothes. His parents paid money for them so why can’t he wear them. … It is not like he had on a Florida shirt or anything like that.”
- Cleveland said “there’s no telling” about the possibility of Alabama’s famous strength coach Scott Cochran taking a position at UGA at this time.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and 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.