LAURINBURG, N.C. — Zamir White committed to Georgia on Tuesday afternoon. The nation’s No. 1 RB prospect in the Class of 2018 chose the occasion of his mother’s birthday to share that decision.
It was to honor her.
But the wheels that started White on that way to that decision were set in motion many, many years ago. That’s what White’s uncle told DawgNation at the ceremony from Scotland County High School Tuesday afternoon.
It was all because of a man named Jon Smith.
He’s the father of White’s best friend, Jonathan Smith, a former high school teammate who is a rising sophomore linebacker at North Carolina.
The Smiths were from Thomasville in southern Georgia. They moved to North Carolina and remained Georgia fans. Jonathan Smith camped at Georgia over the years growing up. Still UGA never offered him, despite his status as the nation’s No. 11 inside linebacker prospect in 2016, according to the 247Sports composite.
The Smith family even had UGA stickers on their car.
“It all starts with Jon Smith,” White’s uncle, Anthony “Amp” Pegues, said. “He coached park and recreation football here. He’s from Georgia. He was always wearing those Georgia shirts and rooting for Georgia. I guess Zamir might have been 7 or 8 years old when he first started learning about football and Georgia.
“As he grew up he was with Jon and them a lot. So he always was kind of getting exposed to Georgia that way. Georgia was already in the back of his head.”
His uncle, who began training White as a youngster, said White’s idol growing up was Walter Payton.
“That’s where he gets that No. 34 he wears from,” Pegues said. “We tried to do everything that Walter Payton did. Because he was the greatest. So we trained the way that Walter Payton did. When he told me that he wanted to be the greatest running back ever, well then that’s what we set out to do.”
Uncle Amp said that he knows that White could walk up and down the football field on his hands from a handstand position. That’s what Payton did.
“When he told me that he wanted to be the greatest to ever play the game of football, that’s who I pointed him to,” Pegues said. “That’s what Zamir wants to be in the game of football now.”
Zamir White breaks down his decision
Here’s the big news: The nation’s No. 1 RB said he was shutting down his recruitment with this decision.
“This is final,” White said.
That means no more visits. That means no more chatting with college coaches. He plans to enroll at Georgia in January after he takes part in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
White said Alabama finished in second place on his list. He told DawgNation that he liked the Crimson Tide about 75 percent as much as he did Georgia.
White said he told Georgia coach Kirby Smart that he was coming to Athens about a month ago.
His jersey number will not matter to him. He said he happily will wear whatever jersey the Bulldogs provide to him. After all, the Bulldogs retired No. 34 in 1985 in honor of Herschel Walker.
“Georgia is a great school to me,” White said. “The tradition there and the mindset of that school with its backs is it is just looking for great players.”
Why did Georgia finish ahead of Alabama?
“Georgia is just Georgia to me,” White said. “I’ve known about them and loved them since my freshman year. Georgia has basically been leading for me ever since then.”
He said playing time was a major factor and he feels confident he can play early in Athens. That’s because he knows that two spots in the running back room will be freed up when Nick Chubb and Sony Michel run out of eligibility this fall.
The big offensive line that the Bulldogs have built also was a major factor. He was reminded of that on the visit when he told Smart about his college plan.
“I looked around and saw all those big guys,” White said. “I just knew I had to come here.”