Massive OL Ben Cleveland reflects on UGA commitment

UGA commitment Ben Cleveland watches a drill with OL coach Rob Sale in Athens this summer. (Rob Saye / Special to the AJC)

UGA commitment Ben Cleveland watches a drill with OL coach Rob Sale in Athens this summer. (Rob Saye / Special to the AJC)

When Ben Cleveland and Jacob Eason huddled together and decided to commit at last year’s Dawg Night, it was the big offensive lineman who handled that task.

Cleveland is the 4-star from Stephens County High School, while Eason is the nation’s No. 1-rated quarterback from Lake Stevens, Wash.

“It was the funniest thing,” Cleveland told the AJC this week. “Jacob and I were eating dinner in Sanford Stadium and kept texting back and forth. How it just felt right at Georgia. I wasn’t going to be an early commit. I was going to keep my options open and see what was out there.”

That did not last.

“I stood up and got everybody’s attention and we made our announcement together,” Cleveland said. “With it being Jacob’s first visit to Athens it was special. He had been other places, but he said it made him feel like no other place he had been.”

The last part of the story is gold.

“We acted like we were getting up to get another plate of food,” Cleveland said. “But I just stood up and told everybody I’d like to make an announcement that Jacob and I wanted to go ahead and officially commit to the ‘G’ and then everything just went insane.”

Eason was worried he wouldn’t be able to get everyone’s attention. There’s a life lesson there:

The quarterback was smart enough to trust his offensive lineman for help

“I was like ‘Dude, leave that to me’ and ‘I promise you I can handle that’ when we did that,” Cleveland said.   “I can’t believe it has been a year. It feels like a few months ago. My life has been on fast-forward it feels like ever since.”

Cleveland originally was going to attend Dawg Night as an observer, but he has changed his mind and decided to suit up.

“Need to help myself get better,” he said. “I need to go ahead and get some coaching from (UGA offensive line coach Rob Sale) as well.”

He plans to spread his influence across the depth chart.

“I watched Kyle Davis at The Opening and it is real obvious we need him,” Cleveland said. “We need Kyle as well as Mecole Hardman. Mecole and I live 45 minutes away from each other and have played with him and against him. Mecole and I have a bit more of a personal relationship so I think I’ll be able to recruit him to come to Georgia pretty hard.”

When Cleveland speaks up this year, he should be able to grab their attention, too.

Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.


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