Star freshman tailback Zamir White apparently went down with a non-contact injury during today’s scrimmage. Multiple outlets have now confirmed that White’s injury was indeed another ACL tear.
The injury is to White’s left knee, not the right knee which was surgically repaired this winter after he suffered an ACL tear in it in November. It’s certainly terrible news for a young man who has battled back to be ready to play as a true freshman. White will now certainly redshirt and hopefully be ready in 2019.
The anterior cruciate ligament remains crucial to proper knee function, and having two working knees remains a critical prerequisite to being a successful tailback. What has thankfully changed over time is the prognosis for backs suffering ACL tears. The injury is no longer career-ending, and there’s every reason to expect that White will make a full recovery. But in the short term Zeus’s injury isn't great news for the Red and Black.
While D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien, and Elijah Holyfield are likely to shoulder the majority of the carries this season, White had the chance to become a significant cog in the running back rotation. The fact is tailbacks get injured in the SEC, and however many of them you have you need one more. In that respect this injury hurts.
Coach Smart was asked after practice about the decision to utilize White on the punt team. He seemed to bristle at the implication that White shouldn't be participating on special teams.
I don't really blame him. At the end of the day you recruit football players to play football. After years of second-guessing Mark Richt for filling special teams units with walk-ons and fourth stringers, I don't think Bulldog fans can now complain too much when Smart puts his best players on special teams. It’s what you do when you want to win, and nobody wants to win more than Kirby Smart. It’s also a great way to get freshmen on the field and acclimated to the speed of the college game before they crack the offensive and defensive rotation. To repeat, there are great reasons to play Zamir right where Kirby Smart was playing him. White’s injury doesn't mean it was a mistake to play him in kick coverage.
This kind of thing just happens. It stinks, but injuries are the price of football. While the injury bug didn't bite the Bulldogs in 2017, it’s beginning to look like 2018 may be a painful regression to the mean. Until later...