ATHENS — On Saturday night, you knew when redshirt freshman running back Zamir White took the field. But it wasn’t because of his hulking size or shifty movements.
Every time White stepped on the field, the many Georgia fans in attendance in Nashville we’re shouting “Zzzzzeeeeuuuuussss.”
When junior quarterback Jake Fromm first heard the cheers, he thought they were boos. Senior running back Brian Herrien compared it to when Jacob Eason — who many thought was a program changing player at the time — took the field for Georgia in the 2016 season.
It became apparent on White’s second run that fans were going to have a real reason to scream the redshirt freshman running back’s nickname.
He ripped off a 23-yard run that very likely would’ve gone for more had White not had the ball popped out from behind by a Vanderbilt defender.
“Well I’d rather him not fumble, but man he played great,” Fromm said after the game. “He played strong, he played tough. And you wouldn’t expect anything less from that guy.”
His final carry of the game might have been even better, as he plowed through a Vanderbilt defender and bounced off a few more before being brought down. The run looked similar to something Nick Chubb might’ve done in his time in a Georgia jersey.
— Jerry Heñson 🔴⚫️🐶⚫️🔴 (@mejerryhenson) September 1, 2019
White’s debut was a long time coming, as his last football game prior to Vanderbilt came in November of 2017. That game was two ACL injuries and 20 months ago. Just to see White on the field playing football once again was seen as a big moment by his teammates.
“Everybody just wants to see the young man win,” Georgia running back D’Andre Swift said. “His whole story, he’s so strong mentally and physically. Everybody wants to see him win.”
As far as his role with the Georgia running backs, White was the fourth running back to touch the ball in Georgia’s 30-6 win over Vanderbilt and he didn’t see the field until the second half.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the two scrimmages Georgia had in August really helped White gain confidence in his knee, which allowed for some of his violent runs on Saturday night.
“I think he was anxious to get out there and go run the ball the other night,” Smart said. “I thought he did a good job with opportunity.”
White should have plenty of chances to continue to gain more confidence this week, as the Bulldogs will likely have another blowout on their hands as they play Murray State.
For now, it looks White’s duties will be limited to back-up duties, as he’s at best third in the running back pecking order. Swift finished with 149 yards and Herrien added 65 yards of his own. And most of those yards came while the game was considered competitive.
In addition to the fumble White had, he also needs to improve in pass protection — a point Smart has made multiple time. But it was only White’s first game and Smart is confident White will get more comfortable in his knee and game
“He continues to get better and get healthier,” Smart said. “I think the sky’s the limit because he continues to improve.”
As White exited the field on Saturday, many Georgia fans once again greeted him with a loud “Zeeeeuuuuussss” cheer. If he continues to run as he did on Saturday night — while also refining the other aspects of his game — those same cheers are going to be deafening in Sanford Stadium.
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