ATHENS, Ga. — Georgia football has a best-case scenario in its running back stable with freshman Zamir White cleared to open fall drills with the team on Friday.
“ Zamir will be full go with a protective brace (on his knee), we’ll just have to monitor his volume, but he’s not going to be limited in any way, he should be able to do all drills,” Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said at his Friday press conference. “He’s just gaining confidence on his knee, but the brace is helping with that.”
The No. 4-ranked Georgia football program met Thursday night and began practice on Friday.
Nick Chubb comparison
Smart compared White’s return from the the torn ACL he suffered in the North Carolina High School state playoffs on Nov. 17, to how former Georgia star Nick Chubb returned from his knee injury.
“He’s in a very similar situation to when I arrived with Nick Chubb, (and) when we went through spring it reminded me of Chubb, where you saw Nick doing things that first spring back, being able to do some ball handling,” Smart said.
“That’s kind of where Zamir has been, did a very similar protocol to what Nick did, whether it was karate, doing things getting on mats, learning to fall again, getting confidence in his knee and that’s been a big part of his rehab,” Smart said. “ If anything, I’d say he’s ahead of where Nick was his junior year. His injury was not quite as significant as Nick’s was, so, (I’ve) been very pleased with that.”
White, of course, was a 5-star signee in Georgia’s 2018 signing class.
There’s a chance the 6-foot, 210-pounder could make an immediate impact.
White rushed for 2,085 yards and 34 touchdowns on 148 carries last season (14.1 yards per carry). White also had six catches for 208 yards and three touchdowns.
Smart implied White’s attention to detail in the spring session — even though he was physically limited — could pay immediate dividends.
“He was able to get a lot of mental reps in the spring,” Smart said, “but now he’s cleared to do everything.”
The key, Smart said will be how much of a workload White can handle in fall drills.
“I think the big issue there is not necessarily (being) cleared, it’s what kind of volume can he handle,” Smart said. “Can he handle 7,000 yards on our GPS at practice? I don’t know, we have to monitor that and see where he gets each day and make sure we bring him back at the right pace.”
Sophomore D’Andre Swift if Georgia’s leading returning rusher with 618 yards last season, but the Bulldogs are well-stocked with competition in the backfield.
Elijah Holyfield (293 yards) and Brian Herrien (265 yards) return, and incoming freshman James Cook arrived on campus for the second half of summer.
Cook has shown great explosion, and has the talent to be on the field in some capacity as soon as he learns the playbook.