Georgia’s big Ben Cleveland re-emerges, earns SEC award

Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland (74) during the Bulldogs' game against the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.
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Georgia offensive lineman Ben Cleveland (74) during the Bulldogs' game against the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.

Credit: Perry McIntyre

Credit: Perry McIntyre

If you think you saw more of Georgia's Ben Cleveland in the Missouri game, you did.

So did the SEC.

The league office in Birmingham anointed the 6-foot-6, 340-pound junior the SEC’s offensive lineman of the week. It’s the first such award for Cleveland, who has been sharing time with Cade Mays at right guard this season.

But Cleveland played most of the game versus Missouri because Mays had to move to center to fill in for injured starter Trey Hill (ankle). Cleveland graded out a team best 86% for the game.

“He got to play a lot more,” coach Kirby Smart said. “It seems like he’s had a major role, minor role, big role, he’s taken on all roles. He’s kind of had that kind of career when you think about it.”

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Cleveland took over as Georgia’s No. 1 right guard during the 2017 loss at Auburn. He started the rest of that season before breaking a leg against Missouri early last year. Since his return, Cleveland has backed up Mays, then alternated with him. Cleveland has four starts this season.

Against Missouri, Cleveland did not allow a single pressure of quarterback Jake Fromm. He also had seven knockdown blocks.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” Smart said. “He was playing really good the other night, getting a lot of movement, getting a good pad level. And usually when Ben plays well we play well. He helps get us a lot of power over on the right side. So he did a nice job in that game and graded out well, and was happy to get him that award.”

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