If there’s one sure bet for Tuesday’s SEC Media Days, it’s that UGA coach Kirby Smart will be asked about Zamir White.
It’s a routine event at Smart’s press conferences, and with good reason: White is easily the most mysterious, yet most eagerly-anticipated player on this year’s team for the Bulldog fans.
Why is that? White signed with UGA in 2018 as the nation’s No. 1 overall running back. Naturally, there were great expectations for last season, but White missed his first year with the Bulldogs due to a heart-breaking knee injury suffered just before the season. He’s yet to play a snap for UGA in a game.
Could White have been the player that put UGA over the top against Alabama in the SEC Championship game? Is he the type of running back (especially with Georgia’s talent-heavy offensive line) who can take over and dominate a game? Is the hype legit? That’s what Bulldogs fans who are infatuated with White want to know, and it’s hard to not get excited when you see a video like this.
The high school coach of the former 5-star recruit told DawgNation recently that the young phenom nicknamed “Zeus” is the real deal.
“That’s the thing about Zamir — he can do it all,” said Richard Bailey, who coached White at Scotland (N.C.) High School.
“You’ve got some running backs, and they are great perimeter guys. You’ve got other guys who are great at running between the tackles. You got guys who catch passes. You’ve got guys who can pass protect (block). Zamir can do it all. There’s not a single thing on the football field that Zamir White cannot do. I mean, not a thing.
“Whoever the best pass-receiving running back is, Zamir is just as good. Whoever is the best blocker, Zamir is going to be just as good. The best guy running between the tackles? Zamir will be just as good, too. He can run inside or outside.
“I’ve never had one like Zamir.”
Could White have put UGA over the top last season if not for the injury? “I don’t know about that, but I think he would’ve definitely been playing and helping the team out in a lot of ways,” Bailey said.
White had an inspirational yet lengthy journey back from the knee injury – his second torn ACL within a year. He appears to have fully recovered emotionally from what is best described as “a dark place.”
Taking all of that into account, what are realistic expectations for White in 2019?
“If he’s healthy, I think he’ll legitimately be in the rotation for the one of top two or three backs,” Bailey said. “I think Swift and Zamir will be ‘the dudes.’ And I don’t mean any disrespect to the other guys. Georgia is going to play three or four. They got some talented ones there. But I expect Zamir to contribute in ways that people will notice.”
For the record, there are a lot more people than White’s coach who feel that way. You don’t get to be the country’s top-rated running back if you’re not a very special talent. It really comes down to White’s health — which Smart will be asked about and he’ll talk about on Tuesday.