Ravens’ Ben Cleveland discusses eating squirrel as part of his diet

Squirrel: It’s what’s for dinner.

Ravens rookie offensive lineman Ben Cleveland is something of an outdoorsman: He recently told the Ravens’ official site that he has liked to spend time in the woods for as long as he can remember, as he grew up in a small town of 8,000 in rural Toccoa, Ga.

Being an avid outdoorsman and hunter leads to a certain diet, which usually includes deer, fish and, well, something else that most Americans probably don’t keep on their menu: squirrel.

On Friday, the first day of Ravens rookie mini-camp, Cleveland further discussed eating squirrel and how it fits into his diet.

It’s one of those things, I don’t know if it was a specific diet, it’s more so one of those things where you eat what you got in the freezer from the fall. I 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.

And he is an expert in frying up the furry-tailed critters.

“Very tricky animals to cook,” Cleveland said, via Ravens.com. “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.”

When he was 8 years old, Cleveland said he played hooky from school, eventually catching a couple of squirrels, frying them up and warming up some frozen biscuits for himself, too, so he’s got experience in this area.

“Some squirrels in south Georgia, they’ll taste a little bit more nutty,” Cleveland said. “Up here, our acorns and stuff aren’t really as strong as the ones down south. Most of them up here, it just tastes like squirrel. If you put enough seasoning on it, you can make it taste like anything you want it to taste like.”

The 6-6, 357-pound lineman certainly lives up to his nickname “Big Country” and seems like he was pretty much destined to play offensive line for one of the nastiest units in the league with Baltimore.

Frankly, a squirrel-based diet seems a little … nuts.

Sorry. That was a-corn-y joke.

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