It’s a dream realized through hard work and determination. Originally, Cleveland walked on the team prior to the 2010 season, but his dedication and future promise in the program earned him a scholarship going into this fall.
Playing fullback at Syracuse is one of the most recognized positions in the history of college football; the great Jim Brown did so in the 1950s, and other NFL stars such as Jim Nance, Larry Csonka and Daryl ‘Moose’ Johnston followed him. So did former St. John’s Prep great Rob Konrad, who like Brown wore No. 44 (the last player to do so before it was retired by the school) and played fullback for ‘Cuse before going on to a pro career with the Miami Dolphins.
Academics were a big part of his decision to go to Syracuse, and Cleveland’s emphasis on his education hasn’t lessened over time. Attending Syracuse’s Whitman School of Management, he was named to the 2011 and 2012 Big East All-Academic teams.
When he first stepped on campus in upstate New York, Cleveland naturally had to adapt to different terminologies and a more complex playbook than the former Chieftain star was used to. He redshirted his freshman season, leaving him with another season of eligibility after this year — as well as some much needed time to acclimate to the college football environment.
“I remember when I first got here it was a whole other terminology and types of schemes and plays and names. I’m fortunate to have redshirted; it took me a little while to develop at the college level,” explained Cleveland. “It’s faster, there’s more responsibility and a lot less room for error. But it’s one of those things that with time, I started getting the hang of it. It’s a big commitment, but it’s an awesome experience.”