UGA Football

Freshmen Ben Cleveland, Julian Rochester impress Georgia teammates with size and strength

Jason Butt

Kirby Smart talks about the 2016 early enrollees

Before Georgia's first spring practice, Kirby Smart gave a little insight on the program's newest members.
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Before Georgia's first spring practice, Kirby Smart gave a little insight on the program's newest members.

A few veterans have taken notice of just how big two of Georgia’s freshman early enrollees are.

Offensive tackle Ben Cleveland and defensive lineman Julian Rochester aren’t built like typical teenagers. Cleveland, 17, is already 6-foot-6 and 345 pounds. Rochester, 19, checks in at 6-5 and 327 pounds. Both players are hoping to see some early run with the Bulldogs and their size could be a big reason why that happens.

Center Brandon Kublanow, a rising senior, noted that Cleveland was impressive during winter workouts in the weight room, which is easy to understand given how big he is.

“He’s a freak. He’s like an ogre,” Kublanow said. “He’s huge. He is as strong as he looks.”

Cleveland still will have a ways to go before getting a shot at a starting spot. He didn’t work in with the first team during Georgia’s first two spring practices — at least during the viewing periods open to reporters — and figures to have quite a bit of competition to beat out if he’s going to do so. Running with the first team at tackle, early on, are Kendall Baker and Greg Pyke. Rhode Island graduate transfer Tyler Catalina soon will arrive and compete for a starting spot this fall.

Cleveland’s body type, however, does appear to be ideal for what offensive line coach Sam Pittman prefers. Kublanow said the most important thing Cleveland can do this spring is adjust to the nature of the college game.

“It’s always confusing coming in from high school, learning a new system,” Kublanow said. “He’s done a great job. He’s taking it well. He’ll definitely need to learn.”

Based on Georgia’s spring roster, Rochester is already the biggest player on the defensive front. The Bulldogs are likely to rely on a rotation in 2016, much like they did a season ago. As a result, Rochester should have every opportunity to earn early playing time.

Defensive lineman John Atkins said Rochester’s work ethic matches the size he brings to the table.

“He’s got a motor. He never stops,” Atkins said. “He’s going to get after it every day.”

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