ATHENS, Ga. – Zamir White doesn’t do much at Georgia practices right now. When the tailbacks are doing basic drills he does basic runs. When contact drills arrive, White takes a football and goes to the side by himself. A trainer might join him.
But the mere sight of White can be enough to tantalize. There are few people at his position who look as big and athletic when they put on football pads.
“Yeah, he looks pretty good,” Georgia tight end Isaac Nauta said, adding with a grin: “He looks pretty good.”
It will be a while before White does anything more than just look good. He tore his right ACL late last season and has spent this spring rehabbing at Georgia after enrolling early.
But White is already ahead of schedule, and it’s becoming time to assume he will be a factor at some point this season. And considering he was a 5-star prospect when the Laurinburg, N.C., product signed with Georgia, he will be a considerable factor if he’s healthy.
“I’ve watched tape,” Georgia senior defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter said. “All of the guys that have come to Georgia, who have committed, I like to know who’s going to be my teammate so I watch. … He’s one of those players who’s just electric. A great athlete. So I’m really excited what he will bring to the table.”
Mecole Hardman, the junior wide receiver, also has noticed White, even if it’s just when the freshman is participating in non-contact drills. White’s physical presence and running style reminds Hardman of Nick Chubb.
The physical resemblance is close: White is listed at 6-foot and 210 pounds, Chubb at 5-11 and 228. And Chubb brought more than size to the position, obviously, blending it with speed and elusiveness. White, by all reports out of high school, does as well.
“Seeing him out there running and cutting a little bit he’s doing well. But I’m ready to see him full speed and healthy, seeing what he did in high school,” Hardman said. “A big power, physical back. He’s got a little wiggle to him, speed.”
The departures of Chubb and Michel leave a void, although the return of D’Andre Swift means there is a clear top back. Juniors Elijah Holyfield and Brian Herrien are competing to be the next back, and 4-star recruit James Cook arrives this summer.
So the pressure on White to return quickly and help the team should be minimal. But he might be too good not to play. This is, after all, someone who averaged 14.1 yards per carry as a high school senior. In the game in which he got hurt, in the state playoffs, he still had 145 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 8 carries.
“He’s shifty,” Ledbetter said. “You can just see going through drills it just looks like he’s in a zone with what he’s supposed to be doing.”
By that, he meant the rehabbing. Even then, he’s been showing teammates this spring a glimpse of what may be to come.
“You can tell he’s gotta be careful with what he does. He’s still rehabbing and things. But you can see he’s got a lot of talent and a lot of upside,” Nauta said. “A big physical kid, too. So when he gets up and rolling around really good it’s going to be fun seeing him play.”