When you see a 6-foot-5 (at least), 320 pound kid walking down the hall at a high school, you do not think freshman. You think senior or maybe even a graduate who came back to see his old coaches or teaches.
When you see that sized young man at Stephens County, it is Ben Cleveland, and he is a freshman.
He is different and he is already attracting major attention in recruiting.
"Clemson just offered me this week, South Carolina offered me last week, and I also have offers from Florida, and Texas," Cleveland told Scout. "Every school that has come to the school has offered me so far."
It would be hard for a college not to offer this young man when they lay eyes on him. He is a solid 320 pounds, not sloppy. He is very strong, he is flexible, and he has been timed at 5.0 seconds in the 40 yard dash according to his coach.
"Ben is a freak of nature that can really run. He is the strongest kid we have ever had. He is out here stealing bases for our baseball team and he is just a good athlete. He is just a special, special talent," said Stephens County head football coach Travis Noland.
This 'freak of nature' has already picked up verbal offers from Clemson, Florida, South Carolina, and Texas. Cleveland knew he was big, but he is did not know the offers would start rolling in this early.
"It was a shock at first when I got the first offer or two. I did not expect it at all. It was a little hard to take in, but I am just enjoying it now," said Cleveland.
"I did not know anything about any of the schools that offered me prior to them offering, but since they offered I have been researching them a little on the internet. I think a lot of the schools are similar, so I am going to look into the schools that offer me more and more."
The recruiting process officially got started when Florida called Coach Noland. Noland talked to Joker Phillips and then Cleveland did.
"I have talked to Coach Phillips a couple of times on the phone now. I talked to him the day he offered me when I was at school, then I talked to him from my house too. I couldn't believe what he was telling me about Florida offering me. It was great to speak with him. He is a cool coach."
The Gators have made Cleveland's very early list.
The big freshman offensive tackle out of Taccoa, Ga. grew up a fan of an in-state school, but he is not locked in on that school.
"Growing up in Georgia I have always been a Bulldog fan, but as I have started seeing the options for my future I have widened my perspective a little bit. I still like Georgia because I am from Georgia and family likes them, but I like other schools too.
"I like Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Florida, and Texas A&M. That is my top five right now. I have known about those schools for a while now, I like them, and I want to learn more about them with all this starting up."
He has plenty of time to learn about those schools and plenty others before he signs with a school in February 2016.
It is clear that he will have plenty of options if he keeps working and that is what he plans to do.
Cleveland's size and pure strength are very impressive, but the way he moves and bends it too. He credits his father with that.
"I stretch a lot and I do a lot of agility drills and I think that has really helped me. My dad has always made me stretch. Since I was 11 or 12 years my dad has had me stretching every day. He knew I was a big kid, he knew big kids tend to get more stiff, and I feel I am very flexible because of all the stretching I have been doing. That has really helped me."
Spring practice is right around the corner and Cleveland plans to improve on his blocking then.
"I need to work on shocking people with my hands. I feel better about my pass protection right now, but I need to be more consistent in my drive blocking. I think I am OK at both, but I can still get a lot better. I am going to listen to my coaches, try to get better, and just keep working on things."
Coach Noland is very happy that he gets to coach him and that his running backs get to run behind him for three more seasons. He may be raw now, but he is still dominant on the high school level, and he is only going to get better.
"He is going to be scary once he learns to work his hands better," Noland added. "He is a good run blocker right now, but he can get a little top-heavy at times. He is only going to get better there. It is hard to believe there is a kid out there like Ben at this age. I haven't seen anything like him."
Not the normal 14 year old
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