After winning the championship and earning the MVP award at the state 7-on-7 tournament – James Cleveland hopes to take the momentum into his senior season at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas. "We won a state title a couple of weeks ago in 7-on-7's, so coming off of that and going into two-a-days, I'm pretty excited," said Cleveland.
The 6-foot-1 185-pound wide receiver is currently working out with his team five or six times a week and focusing on areas that he wants to improve. "It's a lot of weight-lifting but more running than weight-lifting. I need to work on my 40-time and my quickness," he noted.
After a junior season that earned him first-team all district and second-team all greater Houston honors, interest in Cleveland has continued to mount. " [The recruiting process is] going fast. One day I get a text from a coach in the East, the next from the South or somewhere else – it's fast, you've got to catch-up or get run over," he said. Cleveland mentioned Iowa as the school that is probably recruiting him the hardest at present.
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With offers from schools such as Arizona, Arizona St., Iowa, Utah, SMU, Tulane, Colorado, Texas A&M, and Missouri (among others), Cleveland has a lot to think about. "I don't really have a favorite right now, I'm still open," he explained. "I'm probably going to take my visits first and see how that goes and then choose from there."
Playing in one of the "hotbeds" of football, Cleveland is friends with a number of Division 1 players and would welcome the opportunity to play alongside one of them; this includes his brother, Jay'Mond, who is currently a receiver at SMU.
Cleveland is also the former teammate of Brian Johnson, who replaces NFL #1 draft pick Alex Smith as the quarterback for the University of Utah this Fall. "I know him pretty well, he was the quarterback my sophomore year at my school so I have somewhat of a relationship with him and he's a great guy," he said of Johnson. When asked if he could see himself fitting into a spread-type offensive system, like Utah's, Cleveland affirmatively responded, "Yeah. You're probably not familiar with the Baytown Lee offense – the Baytown Lee offense is exactly what Utah does. We spread it out."
As he moves toward the next level in football, Cleveland is clear in his abilities and what he is looking for in a school. "I don't doubt myself not one bit, I'm always going to have faith in myself and whatever school I go to I feel like I can make an impact my freshman year," he commented. "I want to play for a coach that knows what he's doing – that I can put my trust in and that makes me a better athlete. I want a great education. I want to play for a team that wins or that I can help change into a winning program."
Regardless of where Cleveland ultimately ends up, he will make an impact the moment he steps on campus.