ATHENS — Everybody might have to wait a while longer before finding out for just how good Zamir White is.
The Georgia Bulldogs’ heralded freshman running back with the nickname of Zeus was injured Saturday during the second scrimmage of preseason camp. White hurt his left knee in the early portion of what was the 14th practice of the preseason. White walked off under his own power but immediately left the field for X-Rays and further testing.
The severity of the injury was not immediately known.
“I’m sick for the kid, but we don’t know the severity of the injury,” coach Kirby Smart said during his post-scrimmage briefing at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall.
White suffered a torn ACL of his right knee during the North Carolina state playoffs last November. He underwent surgery last December and has been practicing without limitations while wearing metal brace since preseason camp opened on August 2.
Smart confirmed that the injury occurred while White was working on a punt-coverage unit. He said it was a “non-contact injury.”
“There was nobody around,” Smart said. “He and Mark Webb were kind of holding each other up. He’s getting an MRI right now. It was his left, non-surgical knee, but I can’t tell you much more than that.”
Smart took issue with a reporter who asked if it was unusual for a running back to be on punt coverage.
“Sony Michel was a first-round draft pick last year; he covered punts,” Smart said. “Derrick Henry covered every punt at Alabama. Why would you ask that? … D’Andre Swift is a starter on punt. So it’s not unusual for our running backs to play (on kick coverage units).”
About 1,000 or so donors were attending the otherwise closed scrimmage along with players’ parents. News of White’s injury circulated via social media and chat rooms of fan sites before Smart met with the media.
White, a 6-foot, 210-pound freshman from Laurinburg, was one of the most anticipated members of Georgia’s 2018 recruiting class, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation. He was rated the No. 1 running in America, according to 247Sports.com’s composite rankings. He rushed for 3,086 yards and 34 touchdowns in 11 games before suffering a right knee injury in the second round of the playoffs.
Georgia does has come other running backs to turn to. They have four on scholarship, and five backs who could realistically contribute this season. Sophomore D’Andre Swift is the leading returner rusher on the team. Juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien played as backups the last two seasons. Freshman James Cook was ranked No. 3 in the nation among all-purpose backs and has been impressive in camp. Prather Hudson is a redshirt sophomore from Columbus who gets a lot of work in practice and played in 14 games last year, though mostly on special teams.
Georgia lost more than 8,000 yards in career rushing with the graduation of Nick Chubb and Michel off last year’s team. Both are playing in the NFL now.