Trevor Lawrence. Zamir White. Those that ponder what Matt Stafford handing off to Todd Gurley would’ve looked like in Athens could one day get their wish.
That sure sounds outlandish, but those are clear parallels for each player’s Saturday potential. Trevor Lawrence, the nation’s No. 1 junior prospect, putting the ball into the abs of the nation’s top-rated back for 2018 would be quite the combination for Georgia.
What’s the latest regarding their recruiting decisions?
Let’s start with Lawrence. The quarterback does touch the ball first after all.
The junior at Cartersville (Ga.) High School is not doing interviews as he works to decide between Georgia and Clemson. Lawrence said in mid-July he hoped to have his decision made around the first of August. That changed, obviously.
The team-first Lawrence seemed the sort to make his decision before the start of his junior year. The 6-foot-6 signal caller has always made moves that don’t take the attention away from his high school team.
It seems like he wants to act like any other Hurricane. Another one of the guys.
Lawrence told me recently there is now “no timetable” for his decision. In respect to his stated request of no interviews at this time, I left it at that.
I’d expect him to make his decision whenever he feels ready, but at the same time in respect to his high school season. He might make it on a bye week or even after the season. It remains plausible that he might make his decision on or after a Saturday unofficial visit during the season, too.
His season opens with a very big test on Friday night. Lawrence and the defending Class 4A champions host Class 6A title-winner Allatoona. Both teams are rated No. 1 to open the year in their respective classifications.
The young man they call Zeus
White is more than just the nation’s No. 1 back in his class. He’s been compared for years now to North Carolina legend Todd Gurley, but his story goes much deeper than that.
Scotland County coach Richard Bailey said former Georgia coach Thomas Brown told him White would’ve been the No. 1 running back on Georgia’s board for 2016. That’s quite an evaluation for a 10th-grader considering how well Elijah Holyfield has done so far in fall camp.
Keep in mind that White said Georgia was his leader “by a lot” last year when he was being recruited by Mark Richt’s staff. When the staff turned over in Athens, his recruiting changed. Alabama and Ohio State, among others, are now taking their best shots at him and he no longer has a stated leader.
Bailey said to expect White to make his college commitment sometime in the summer prior to his senior season. It seems logical to extrapolate from what he’s seen that Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio State seem to be the teams to beat for his commitment.
Those are the five schools that Bailey feels are not only recruiting him the hardest, but also the ones drawing the 5-star recruit’s interest.
“I’ll be honest with you and say he still really likes Georgia,” Bailey said. “He went to South Carolina a couple of weekends ago and really enjoyed that trip. He got to meet Marcus Lattimore and his family. That was neat for him. He went to (North Carolina) and spent the night up there and he said he enjoyed that.”
His former teammate Jonathan Smith is a freshman at North Carolina. Smith really wanted to play at Georgia, but that offer never came. If Smith would’ve gone to Georgia, the chances of White landing in Athens would’ve increased exponentially. Those two are very close.
White will also cross-train during the season at safety. When injuries hit Scotland County last year in the playoffs, the depth wasn’t there to compete at a high level. Bailey needed defensive backs and it pained him to see White on the sidelines near him as his defense gave up first downs.
Look for White to play meaningful snaps in the secondary and get the reps should the need arise in the playoffs against a top-tier opponent. That said, the Scots are also planning to reduce his workload at running back this fall.
“Running backs only have so many carries in them,” Bailey said. “So I don’t want to use them all up in high school. Don’t get me wrong he’s going to carry the ball 15-to-20 times a game, but I’d rather not look over at the stat sheet and see he carried it 35 or 36 times in a game like he did for us a few times last season.”
Bailey said that nearly 6-foot-1 White is bigger, stronger and faster than he was last season. His weight has floated around 210 pounds over the summer.
“He’s also more mentally prepared heading into his third year of our system,” he said. “The more you understand the faster you play. He’s not thinking as much anymore but just doing it. I see him being even better if that is possible. He may not have as many yards as last year because we are going to reduce his carries, but he might have just as many because his yards per carry should go up. That will be hard because he averaged about eight yards per carry last year, but he is going to be a bigger, better and faster version of himself. If he’s that, then he is going to be very impressive this year.”
Bailey said that White was timed at 10.58 seconds this spring in the 100 meters on a laser time. His bench press at the 300-pound mark, he’s squatting another 425 pounds and his power clean was right at 280 pounds.
The vertical leap was also measured at 37 inches.
“The running back coach at Georgia has let me know over and over that he is their highest-priority type guy,” Bailey said.
White is also working to graduate early and enroll in January of 2018. The schools with the best chances at signing him do still appear to be about a four-to-five-hour drive for White’s family in North Carolina.
Bailey said that he’s noticed that when teams do take a commitment at running back this year, they be sure to call and let White understand what their plans are.
“They usually say he’s not another back like you,” Bailey said. “They say they just got a commitment, but to be sure and let Zamir know that he’s not the same type of back that he is.”
One more thing about Zamir
White recently had an interview with a North Carolina recruiting reporter at his school. When he posed for photos, he just so happened to be wearing a Georgia shirt.
When that picture was published online, Bailey said he got a call from one of Georgia’s main rivals lamenting the fact another big-time back was trending toward Athens.
How does White look so far for 2018? Check out the video clip on the link from a Myrtle Beach TV reporter’s tweet.
That’s from a scrimmage in which White had three carries and two touchdowns to show for a short night of work. White ran for 2,159 yards and 41 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Another in-state back to watch for 2018
Nuru Tinch is a name that started to get some traction in recruiting circles back in May. Tinch is a junior at Newton High in Covington. His skills are evident and that was part of the reason why that program wasn’t devastated when three-star Michigan commit Kurt Taylor transferred to Grayson this summer.
There was this new back who had transferred to Newton from Stephenson.
Tinch is just a three-star prospect, but he’s caught the attention of Georgia running backs coach Dell McGee. He’s also camped at Auburn, among other schools, and generally impressed everyone who saw him this summer.
He visited Georgia for the Kirby Smart Camp in July. The general consensus is the first few games of his junior film could move the dial for his college future.
Tinch said he grew up wanting to play for Georgia.
“Coach McGee keeps teasing me,” Tinch said. “He wants to see what I look like in the film from my first game. .. I know that if Georgia does offer, then they will be a contender for me.”
Tinch said McGee called him a “big, fast and shifty dude.”
That said, there’s another Georgia connection worth keeping an eye on. Tinch is the son of former Georgia basketball player Reggie Tinch. The 6-foot-5 Tinch was named third-team ALL-SEC by the Associated Press in 1992 and also made the SEC’s All-Defensive team that year.
“I just want him to see everything and have fun and see where things go with his recruiting,” his father said. “I haven’t started in on him about Georgia yet. I wouldn’t sit here and tell you that I wouldn’t love to see him at Georgia, but wherever he goes I want him to go somewhere and be happy.”
He said the only offer he knows he has right now is from UAB. That’s in line with his current 247sports recruiting profile page. Tinch said that he ran a 4.49 in the 40-yard dash at Auburn this summer.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges. Unless otherwise indicated, player rankings and ratings are from the 247Sports Composite.