UGA football roster: Last year, last chance for veteran lineman Ben Cleveland

UGA football is replacing four full-time starters on the offensive line this season. One player stepping up is Ben Cleveland who has plenty of starting experience.

A lot has been made about UGA football revamping its offensive line with four full-time starters departing from the program in some form. But the unit wasn’t as decimated as most tend to believe. For instance, Georgia still has Ben Cleveland, an offensive guard with 16 career starts through three seasons.

Cleveland would have more starts if not for injuries suffered in 2018 and constant lineup changes in 2019. Talent and skill haven’t kept Cleveland from playing, he even earned SEC Lineman of the Week honors once last year for a game he didn’t even start (Missouri). With his experience, Cleveland will be a valuable leader on Georgia’s offensive line this season. If the group surpasses expectations, Cleveland will deserve a large chunk of the praise.

2020 is a huge year Cleveland who’s future in football is somewhat in doubt. He signed with Georgia in 2016 ranked No. 90 overall and No. 10 among offensive tackles in the 247Sports Composite rankings. After barely seeing the field early in 2017, he was given an opportunity to start and he never looked back.

That was until he fractured a bone in his leg four games into the 2018 season and was forced to watch most of the season from the sideline. The constant rotations last season didn’t do him any favors either. A return to his old overwhelmingly dominant form in 2020 would put Cleveland back on track for future NFL stardom.

[Note: Watch Ben Cleveland #74 in Georgia’s offensive line film from the Notre Dame game]

When on the field, Cleveland has the potential to dominate any opponent. In fact, Cleveland hasn’t allowed a quarterback to get hit in two seasons. For him, that’s 323 passing plays without allowing any contact with the quarterback. His massive 6-6 and 235-lb. frame is put to good use as he is a powerful lineman who doesn’t let defenders get passed him very often. Cleveland is an underrated athlete as well, capable of moving laterally or getting to the second level quickly.

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Cleveland is Georgia’s starter at right guard. Over his four years in Athens, he’s earned the respect of his teammates and it’s now his turn to be one of their leaders. Having played in two SEC Championship Games, and numerous other big games, his experience is invaluable to this year’s offensive line which will be an amalgamation of maturity and youth.