Georgia running back Zamir White has grown accustomed to high expectations by now. He entered Georgia as the No. 1 ranked running back in the country and a 5-star prospect. He’d been tabbed as a potential x-factor this past season, finally healthy after a second ACL injury.
So now, as he enters 2020 as Georgia’s leading returning rusher, White once again has high expectations. He’ll be expected to carry the load for a new Georgia offense, one with a new quarterback in Jamie Newman and play-caller in Todd Monken.
And the analysts at ESPN think there’s a very good chance he meets those expectations. With a look ahead to the 2020 season, ESPN identified White as Georgia’s breakout player.
“Against Baylor in the Sugar Bowl, with (D’Andre) Swift injured and (Brian) Herrien not in attendance, White made his first career start and rushed for 92 yards on 18 carries, “ESPN’s Alex Scarborough wrote. “After he missed all of 2018 because of an injury, that was exactly what Bulldogs fans were hoping for from the former blue-chip recruit.”
As a redshirt freshman, White rushed 408 yards and three rushing touchdowns while serving behind Swift and Herrien for most of the year. White did have flashes of brilliance, such as his bruising touchdown run in the Sugar Bowl against Baylor.
-White runs it in from 13 yards out
-Georgia makes the lead 25-7 over Baylor
— Sideline Report (@SidelineReport_) January 2, 2020
“That run right there, Charlie Woerner blocked two people for me, I thank him, man,” White said. “That run wasn’t possible without Charlie, he had the great block, and that’s it.”
White will be the leader in the running back room next year, as the Bulldogs bring back James Cook and Kenny McIntosh as well bringing in highly-touted running back Kendall Milton. Unless Georgia adds another running back in the 2020 recruiting class, it will be the first time Georgia will have just four scholarship running backs in the Kirby Smart era.
In addition to ESPN, White has been mentioned as a stealth Heisman candidate, with early Heisman odds listing him at 20-to-1 odds.
With the offense under new direction with the hiring of Monken, White might be one of the bigger beneficiaries. This past season in Cleveland — where Monken served as the offensive coordinator but not play-caller — former Georgia running back Nick Chubb rushed for 1,494 yards. That was the second-most in the NFL.
Dating back to Monken’s time at Oklahoma State — in 2011-12 when he last served as a college offensive coordinator — running back Joseph Randle ran for 2,633 yards and 38 touchdowns across two seasons.
White will also be another year removed from his ACL injuries, one of which he suffered in November of 2017 and the other that happened in August of 2018. When White has been able to meet with the media, he’s expressed confidence in how he’s feeling.
“The knees felt good,” White said after the Sugar Bowl. “It was just practicing and drills, and finally getting out here and going through entire drives.”
This spring will be the first time in his Georgia career that White won’t be focusing on rehab, but rather how he can continue to improve as a player. Smart did compliment White’s improvement as a pass blocker over the season, but his pass-catching abilities might be an area where he can grow. He had only two receptions for 20 yards in 2019.
Georgia and White will start the season on Sept. 7 against Virginia. The game will be played in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as a part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.
Zamir White talks Georgia football after 2019 SEC Championship
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