Zamir White has suffered two consecutive season-ending knee injuries. The back-to-back setbacks have cost him a state championship finale to his prep career and a true freshman season in Athens.
Will he ever carry the football like he used to?
A key source feels he can do just that. As Scotland County coach Richard Bailey shared his view of White’s recovery, he carried a very optimistic tone about his former tailback.
The anticipated return of tailback Zamir White will be one of the most-watched stories of the 2019 season at Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
There was a dark time for White with the injury, but Bailey now feels White is in a great place.
“Look at medically what they have been able to do,” his high school coach said. “You look at Todd Gurley and Sony Michel and even people like Adrian Peterson or even Thomas Davis for the Panthers. He tore his [ACL] like four times and that cat finally retired after a 16-year career in the NFL. It’s just amazing what these guys can do.”
Bailey sees a bright side in that these were (only) ACL tears.
Yes, that is an interesting sentence.
The rationale with that is this wasn’t a total knee construction that involved a patella tear or the medial collateral or lateral collateral or posterior cruciate ligaments.
“It sounds bad to say this but he really just tore his ACL,” Bailey said. “He didn’t tear anything else. A lot of times you tear your ACL you will tear your MCL and your meniscus and everything else.”
Bailey compared this injury to what happened to his starting quarterback at Scotland. That young man tore his ACL, his PCL and essentially everything around the joint.
“He’s got like the old six-inch scar across his knee,” Bailey said. “Whereas Zamir has just had his done arthroscopically. He doesn’t have all that. I really feel like the chances of recovering from what he has had is 100 percent. He is going to be back and as good as ever if not better than ever. Especially with what he has added to his body in the weight room since he has been at Georgia.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind he is going to come back and be better than he ever was or as good which is still phenomenal.”
The Zamir White backstory heading into the 2019 season
White saw his senior season in high school halted. At the time, he was the nation’s No. 1 RB prospect and seen as a once-every-five-years (at least) talent at that position.
The injury wasn’t severe. He walked off the field on his own after signing about 15 minutes of autographs. There was no limp.
White didn’t even know he suffered the injury until he had it checked during an unofficial visit to UGA. He bounced back quickly from that setback. The 6-foot-1 speedster worked himself in position to play early in his freshman year at UGA.
That was until he suffered a new season-ending injury to his other knee in fall camp. That came while he was working in practice on the punt coverage team.
Zamir White averaged a touchdown 23 percent of the time he carried a football during his senior season of high school football. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)
That news raised eyebrows, but White was doing the same things that other great backs like Sony Michel did while they worked their way up the depth chart at Georgia.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said that Derrick Henry also took his talents to the punt team early in his time at Alabama, too.
This will not be the knee injury Nick Chubb recovered from. It was the same ACL tear (albeit to each knee) that Todd Gurley bounced back from to become a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2015.
Director of Sports Medicine Ron Courson has a strong resume of restoring NFL prospects to optimum ability after knee injuries. He has also been the “watchdawg” over White’s care.
The opinion here is that White even at 90 percent of the ability he flashed in high school would clearly place him among the best backs in college football. But those are just a reporter’s words.
Why does a man who has seen him carry a ball more times than his momma have so much faith in him?
“He’s the most driven player I’ve ever had,” Bailey said. “I’ve only had one or two even in his neighborhood as far as work ethic and just being committed to being great. He is a once-in-a-lifetimer guy here. People don’t realize that about him. I’ve been doing this 29 years. I’ve coached or been around thousands of players. They don’t make them like Zamir White. They just don’t.”
Bailey framed those words with the perspective of a coach who has sent at least 30 of his players off to major college football.
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