INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since the 2012 season, Georgia faces legitimate questions about the running back position. D’Andre Swift and Brian Herrien are both off to the NFL, with the two taking part in drills, interviews and medical checks.
With both players gone, the Bulldogs don’t have an experienced option at the running back position. This will be the first time since 2012 that the Bulldogs don’t return a running back who had at least 500 rushing yards in the previous season. That 2012 season saw Todd Gurley, a running back from the state of North Carolina, emerge for the Bulldogs as he rushed for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns.
In the 2020 season, Georgia will first turn to Zamir White, a running back from the state of North Carolina, to take the baton passed on from Swift and Herrien.
And in speaking with the latter two this past week, both feel confident and comfortable in what White will be able to do next year.
“I think he’s pretty ready,” Herrien said. “Coach McGee, me and Dre (Swift) when he got there we taught him a lot of things as a running back.
“He has to be ready to go early because at UGA, a running back will probably leave every year so you have to be ready to step up anytime someone leaves.”
White got his first taste as a lead back in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor, as Herrien missed the game while Swift has limited to just a single carry due to a shoulder injury. The then-redshirt freshman rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries against the top defense in the Big 12 and managed to find the endzone as well in the 26-14 win.
It was the most productive game of White’s career to this point. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 408 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. It’s not exactly the year you would expect from a player who entered Georgia as the No. 1 ranked running back in the country, but nothing so far about White’s college career has gone according to plan.
He tore his ACL in November of his senior season of high school. Then after spending all summer rehabbing and getting back healthy, he tore his other ACL in August of his freshman season. His whole first year at Georgia had been wiped away.
But now with a fully healthy year under his belt, White along with James Cook, Kenny McIntosh, Kendall Milton and Daijun Edwards will look to make up for the production lost with Herrien and Swift.
“Coach McGee is going to do a great job with them and I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do,” Swift said. “I’m excited for them.”
Cook also signed with Georgia as a member of the 2018 class. He might perhaps complement White’s physical style as Cook is a better athlete in space and a more than capable pass catcher. He has battled injuries during his Georgia career.
McIntosh was rarely called upon in his freshman season but he made it count when he was given the ball. His 62-yard touchdown run against Arkansas State was the longest run of the year for any Georgia running back.
Milton and Edwards enter the program as freshmen. Both were rated as 4-star running backs in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Milton was one of the key pieces of the recruiting class and is already on campus working with the team.
McGee — the only offensive assistant from Kirby Smart’s first staff that is still with the team — will have his hands full trying to get the most out of White, Cook, McIntosh, Milton and Edwards. But Swift and Herrien are both confident McGee will have no issues in molding the next starting running back at Georgia.
“He definitely makes sure we don’t fumble the ball. He yells and it’s kind of annoying so it makes you not want to fumble,” Herrien said. “He’s always on us and he never lets us slack.”
D’Andre Swift speaks on what comes next for Georgia football running backs
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