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Zamir White had 57 yards rushing in Georgia's win over Tennessee.

Zamir White ‘in a very good spot’ after flashing against Tennessee

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Zamir White ready for breakout performance, whenever that might come

ATHENS — For much of the offseason, those who follow Georgia closely weren’t wondering if redshirt freshman running back Zamir White was going to break out. It was a question of when.

Related: Why hype and hope still exist for Zamir White

Would Georgia and Kirby Smart put him out there against Vanderbilt, to test his two surgically repaired knees? Or would Georgia keep White under wraps and take the cover off the Porsche for the much anticipated Notre Dame game?

Well, White did see the field against Vanderbilt and carried the ball 5 times for 51 yards. As for Notre Dame, he never got to touch the ball.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart has made it clear since that game that White’s lack of involvement was just part of the situation against Notre Dame, much like when freshman wide receiver Dominick Blaylock didn’t play against Vanderbilt earlier in the season.

“Part of being a good football player is ‘I’m ready to go when my number’s called,'” Smart said. “I tell the guys all the time, because you prepare well in practice doesn’t guarantee you’ll play, but if you don’t prepare well in practice, it guarantees you won’t. So that goes perfect for Zamir.”

White didn’t pout or lose confidence during the bye week. He continued to work on the little areas of the game — Smart called him one of the team’s better pass protectors — and is also now a member of Georgia’s punt return team.

And he got involved early on in the running game as well against Tennessee. He logged a carry on Georgia’s opening drive and finished the game with 7 carries for 57 yards. His longest run of the night went for 17 yards, and he once again gave some Nick Chubb vibes.

On the season, White has for 26 carries for 198 yards 2 touchdowns. And fans still eagerly announce his presence on the field with chants of, “Zeeeeuuuuuusssss.”

White is still waiting to have that true breakout moment that would get everyone in the stadium bellowing his name. The one where announces himself to the college football, like Chubb did in 2014 against Clemson or D’Andre Swift did against Auburn.

Of course, Chubb still had to bide his time in 2014 while Todd Gurley was carving up opposing defenses. Swift did as well when Chubb and Sony Michel carried Georgia to an appearance in the national title game.

As for White, he’s splitting the backfield with Swift and Herrien. The latter actually had a breakout game of sorts against Tennessee, as he finished with a team-high 88 rushing yards. And the senior running back spoke to how difficult it is to earn carries in such a loaded running back room.

“It’s just tough because there’s five of us,” Herrien said, also referring to James Cook and Kenny McIntosh. “He’s young but I feel like he’s in a very good spot and he’s going to be a very good player. He’s come a long way, especially with what happened to last year and in high school.”

Those two events Herrien referenced are the two ACLs White tore in his first year at Georgia and his final year in high school. But White’s playing time hasn’t fluctuated because he’s dealing with any physical side effects of those injuries. Smart has made it clear that White — whose offseason workout videos only fulled the hype-train — has dealt with the physical aspect of playing an SEC schedule extremely well.

As for White’s mental approach to handling the ins and outs of the season, Smart said he’s handled everything that’s been thrown at him well. Even as he now knows that his playing time isn’t guaranteed by a strong week of practice.

“He prepared getting ready for Notre Dame just like he did getting ready for Tennessee,” Smart said. “It wasn’t different. It was just us making sure it happened and also him preparing to take advantage of the opportunity and practicing the right way so that we know he’s ready.”

White should be used to waiting by now, given all the time he’s missed due to his injuries. And the fact that he’s been able to contribute has to be satisfying for White. So much like how he attacked his rehab process, White is going to make sure he’s ready to take advantage of his big moment, whenever that may come.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart

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