By Brian Hilderbrand, www.armedforcesbowl.com
Fort Worth, Texas, December 29, 2009 – One year after playing his freshman season in the Big Ten for Iowa, James Cleveland found himself at Trinity Valley Community College in Terrell, Texas, with little hope of ever playing in the national spotlight again. “When I was leaving the University of Iowa, I didn’t think anybody would ever pick me up because that’s just how the process goes sometimes,” Cleveland said. “There were some guys that never played another down of football that were at the University of Iowa with me; the dice can just roll like that sometimes. “I didn’t even have a community college to go to when I initially started the whole process of trying to find a school. Schools were telling me ‘no,’ and I was just worried that I wouldn’t be able to play again.” Trinity Valley gave Cleveland an opportunity to return to his native state and play football. University of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, who recruited Cleveland out of high school when Sumlin was an assistant at Oklahoma, liked what he saw and gave Cleveland the second chance he thought would never come.