NASHVILLE — Zamir White’s long-awaited comeback from his second torn ACL was finally complete at the 11:05 mark of the third quarter when he entered the game.
“ZOOOOOOOS!” The Bulldogs fans cheered, welcoming the powerful, 6-foot, 215-pound redshirt freshman tailback to his first action on a collegiate football Saturday.
White took a play fake on his first snap in the 30-6 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night. But the second play was for real, White throwing his body into a wall of black jerseys for a 3-yard gain.
Later, White ripped off a 23-yard run, showing more of the explosiveness that made him the No. 1-ranked running back in the 2018 signing class.
No doubt, the loudest cheers of the night were reserved for White.
“I love him, too,” Smart said after the game. “He’s been through so much. He’s a tremendous kid. I love all our kids and he’s just another one who has been through a tough time.”
White finished with 51 yards on five carries, an eye-popping average of 10.2 yards per carry that was in line with fellow backs James Cook (11 yards per carry) and D’Andre Swift (9.3 yards per carry).
“To see him go out there and have some success, he’s so deserving of that,” Smart said, “and our medical staff is deserving of a pat on the back for getting him out there because they spent a lot time with him on the mend.”
It’s a sure bet White will spend some time on ball security this week, the ball getting knocked out of his hands and out of bounds at the end of one of his runs.
To be fair, it was White’s first regulation football game action since November of 2017, when he suffered his first torn ACL (right knee) while finishing out his senior season at Scotland County (N.C.) High School.
An accelerated rehabilitation had White ready for fall camp in 2018, only for him to suffer a torn ACL in his left knee in the second scrimmage of fall camp.
White’s second rehab stint has been well documented, the player himself tweeting out workout videos that added to the fans’ anticipation for his successful return.
White will be in line for more carries next Saturday when Georgia plays its home-opening game at 4 p.m. against FCS Murray State.
Which Georgia running back are you most eager to see carry the ball at Vanderbilt?
— Mike Griffith (@MikeGriffith32) August 30, 2019
Georgia football vs. Vanderbilt