Zamir White has no expectations. Rightfully so.
Georgia’s running back known as “Zeus” has yet to take a college snap. He suffered two ACL injuries within the span of a year and it’s logical to ease him into a workload. Once Georgia kicks off Saturday at Vanderbilt, it’ll be a wait-and-see approach in regard to how many chances White gets.
“He’s just going to go with the flow of the game and sometimes that changes,” head coach Kirby Smart said. “I can’t tell you how that will be for him or what that will be from him.”
Anticipation is palpable, however. Rightfully so.
White came into Georgia with a rare level of prospect fame following him. White had all of the rankings: No. 1 nationally and seemingly every football fan knew his name. He had the numbers to back it up at Scotland County (N.C.) High School, too, with gaudy numbers each week … even after being held out of many second halves.
On the first day of preseason camp, White had some giddiness to him. At last, he felt healthy, confident and positive fortune came his way. He stepped onto the practice field and ferociously burst through a hole.
“We just looked at each other like, ‘dang, he was really moving on that,’” cornerback Eric Stokes said. “So I’m just really excited to see what he is going to bring.”
Nearly a month has passed since that first practice on Aug. 2, but White hasn’t slowed down. He carries the same perkiness and swagger as the rest of Georgia’s running backs. There have been more holes in practice, too, and White continued to power his way through him.
“I feel bad for the safety that has to tackle No. 3,” offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson said.
All of the praise headed in White’s direction is unanimous. Each of his teammates are excited for his first snap, and the coaching staff has sprinkled in its share of praise — not the most common of gestures from Smart and company.
They’ve seen the potential of White’s 6-foot, 215-pound chiseled frame translate onto the football field. Georgia wants to see it come to life in an official game.
“He’s been through a lot and you can tell that he’s battle worn,” reserve running back and special teams’ player Prather Hudson said. “He’s ready to go. I’ve seen drastic strides from a year ago in his maturity and how he looks at things.”
There have been flashes through scrimmages and practices. No fear to lower a shoulder or force toward an impressive run. Nor is there hesitancy to play on the special teams’ units after suffering his second torn ACL on a punt return last August.
Georgia hasn’t shied away from doing so in past seasons as star talents like D’Andre Swift, Lorenzo Carter, Roquan Smith and others spent time in those roles. Based on the priority Georgia places on special teams, White could be of use in other areas than the backfield.
“He’s one of the hardest workers on our team,” Smart said. “He’s played in a lot of our special teams in roles. He’s done a good job in the scrimmages. He’s rip-roaring to go after working his tail off to get back.”
Once White gets his first carry, he might feel a sense of relief to put the days of rehab behind him. Rightfully so.
“We’ll see what happens when his number gets called,” quarterback Jake Fromm said.