Five-star Georgia freshman running back Zamir White almost certainly won’t play college football in 2018. He tore his left ACL while covering a punt at a scrimmage on Saturday, The Athletic’s Seth Emerson reports. The Dawgs haven’t said anything about the extent of the tear or an estimated recovery time, but it’d be shocking if White played this year.
White was the No. 1 running back recruit in the class of 2018, per the industry-consensus 247Sports Composite. The 6’0, 215-pounder was one of just two backs in the top 25 of national player rankings and one of three in the top 100. He’s regarded as one of the most special running back recruits to come around in the recruiting rankings era. In the last five classes, only Leonard Fournette and Alabama’s Najee Harris have earned higher ratings.
White’s injury was non-contact, Emerson says. He quoted Kirby Smart, who answered a question about why such a touted recruit was on punt coverage:
“Sony Michel was a first-round pick last year. He covered a punt. Derrick Henry covered every punt at Alabama,” Smart said. “I mean why would you ask that, is it unusual for him to be on punt? D’Andre Swift’s a starter on punt. So is that unusual for our running backs to play? I mean I’m sick for the kid.”
White should be amazing, but Georgia’s recruiting means the Dawgs are probably still fine for 2018.
The starter will be a five-star from the class before, D’Andre Swift. He had some big moments as a true freshman in 2017, including a 64-yard run to ice the SEC Championship Game. Even with the most productive college RB duo in history (Sony Michel and Nick Chubb) now in the NFL as top-35 picks, and with White hurt, Swift might be enough.
Georgia still has Elijah Holyfield — a four-star junior and Evander’s son — to play the No. 2 role behind Swift. The Dawgs also have James Cook — a four-star freshman and Dalvin’s little brother — to help carry the load. They have two young blue-chip QBs, a dominant line, great receivers, and everything they need to score lots of points anyway in 2018.
But White was going to be so fun to watch, and it’s gutting that he won’t get to play after coming back from an ACL tear once already.
White was likely to see plenty of action in an offense that would’ve given him lots of support. Given his mix of speed, agility, and power, and the unit he was going to be part of, White was in line to put up huge numbers and some great highlights in Year 1. He could still be one of the most fun players in the sport, and not watching him now is a shame.
The worst thing is that White already had to fight back from an ACL tear just to get here. He tore his right ACL in a North Carolina high school playoff game in November 2017. That took months to come back from, and now the same injury on the other side of his body has shelved him two weeks before he was going to suit up for a top-five team.
White can still have a long career ahead of him. But both the Dawgs and their sport will be a little less fun while he works through another setback.