His eccentric demeanor and grizzly attitude earned him the nickname “Big Country.” And he’s doing everything he can to live up to that moniker.
Cleveland met with the media on Friday following the team’s first day of rookie minicamp and he shared some stories about his time growing up in the tiny town of Toccoa in northern Georgia.
The 22-year-old shared that he regularly hunted for his dinner growing up eating everything from deer to duck to turkey. And according to the man himself, he even hunted and ate squirrels throughout his childhood.
An acquired taste to say the least, but one that’s certainly suitable for his nickname.
"“I don’t know if it was a specific diet. It’s more one of those things where you eat what you’ve got in the freezer from the Fall. Had a few squirrels freeze dried in there. Get a little hungry, ain’t got no deer meat left, fry you up a squirrel or two and just go eat that.”"
Ben Cleveland has quickly become a Ravens fan-favorite
Of course, this statement prompted more questions. How often does he eat squirrels? How do they taste? Are they difficult to prepare? Fortunately, Cleveland had an answer for every question.
“It tastes like squirrel. I don’t know how else to explain it to you,” Cleveland proudly remarked when asked about the animal’s taste. “If you put enough seasoning on it, you can make it taste like anything you want it to taste like.”
Perhaps the taste would be worth it, however, Cleveland warned that it isn’t the easiest food to prepare.
"“Very tricky animals to cook. They’ve got really fine hairs on them, so it’s really hard to get all the hairs off them when you skin them. It’s very tricky to get that one figured out.”"
There you have it. If you ever dreamed of preparing the perfect squirrel dinner, now you have a few tips from “Big Country” himself. It might not be as easy if it looks — if you believed it looked easy.
Cleveland didn’t always hunt for his food, however. At least, not in a literal sense. The Georgia product revealed that he used to eat two entire Little Caesars pizzas before going to bed on Tuesday nights in high school.
He’s a big man with a big appetite and an even bigger personality. Needless to say, Ben Cleveland is quickly becoming a legend in Baltimore before even stepping foot on a football field.