Ben Cleveland continues to be a pillar of optimism for UGA football. The 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive tackle shared a significant piece of information with DawgNation on Sunday night.
Cleveland said he knows there are at least “five or six” silent commitments to UGA right now. That’s along with the 16 “public” commitments to the program. Cleveland and 5-star QB Jacob Eason were the first two commitments to this year’s class in July of 2014.
“There’s definitely a couple of silent commitment, under-the-radar guys that Jacob and I know about,” Cleveland said. “I am sure Jacob knows a few more. I am aware of a good handful of silent commitments.”
The 4-star prospect could probably wrestle Polar bears if he had to, but he is also humble enough to know that counting on incoming freshmen recruits in the SEC isn’t the norm. He knows how a message that help is on the way might come across.
“But in this case right now it very well could be that way,” he said.
UGA’s class is currently rated No. 6 in the nation, but look for that number to rise significantly once all those highly-rated silent commitments come into the fold.
The state of Georgia’s No. 1 offensive tackle told DawgNation that he already feels good about UGA’s chances with 4-star tackle Willie Allen. Cleveland also describes UGA’s incoming recruiting class as a bunch of guys who love UGA, and who are already eager to play with one another.
“We’ve gone through this recruiting process and built great bonds and brotherhoods with guys all around the country,” he said. “We want to go out there and play with one another the next four years and maybe even after college. Doing that with some of the guys you have known for the last three or four years is really something special to think about.”
That might even be more important to the incoming class than UGA’s win-loss record right now.
“Every team is going to have their ups and downs,” Cleveland said. “That’s just part of the game of football. You can’t change your whole decision off a couple of bad games. There’s nothing in this world that would make me change my mind about going to the University of Georgia.”
Cleveland and Eason both plan to enroll early in January after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Game.
“It is one of those things where Jacob and I have to get down there and do everything we can to help turn it around from the down that they are in now,” Cleveland said.
With UGA’s quarterback woes, Cleveland is aware of how much pressure there will be on Eason. The two are close friends and will take their official visit together in mid-December. The 5-star passer is already seen as a potential remedy — as unfair as that may seem — to the team’s current state of affairs on offense.
“I think he can handle it,” Cleveland said. “He’s a great quarterback. It is going to take some time to get his read keys down and all that, but I feel he is going to be able to handle it really well. It is just going to take a little bit of a learning curve to get used to it.”
What’s wrong with UGA this season? Cleveland noted the loss of Heisman Trophy candidate Nick Chubb as something that would hurt any SEC program.
“No doubt they are going to turn it around,” Cleveland said. “Just have the faith in the coaches. When something goes bad everyone wants to start throwing the blame on coaches and all that stuff. But those coaches are doing everything in their ability to help that team win. They don’t want their team to lose no more than the fans want their team to lose.”
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.