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Georgia redshirt freshman running back Zamir White earned the praise of coach Kirby Smart for his performance during Saturday's scrimmage, the Bulldogs' first this preseason.

Georgia running back Zamir White went through one preseason scrimmage last year before tearing his left ACL in the second scrimmage.

The redshirt freshman returned to action Saturday inside Sanford Stadium for the first preseason scrimmage of 2019, and he had a much larger support group.

"When you see a guy go through what he's been through, who's not pulling for Zamir White?" Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said in a news conference that followed a 115-play practice that was delayed at the start by lightning. "Every player on our team has seen his ups and downs and the rehab he has done.

"He was on the sideline for a whole year."

White enrolled early last year but couldn't go through spring practice due to a torn right ACL sustained in November 2017. He was the No. 1 running back nationally in the 2018 signing class, having rushed for 2,086 yards, a staggering 14.1 yards per carry and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Scotland High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina.

During the second-round playoff game in which he was injured in the third quarter, White had eight carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns.

Smart does not reveal stats from scrimmages, but he was pleased with White's most significant performance on his latest comeback trail.

"He was really contact-tough," he said. "He was running behind his pads and had a couple of short-yardage runs that were crucial — third-and-1s and fourth-and-1s that he was able to churn out for first downs. He had some big catches and had a good overall day.

"He's got to protect the ball, and he's got to protect the quarterback. Everybody judges him by what he does with the ball in his hands, but there is a lot more to being a good running back than that."

Smart admitted there were several aspects to Saturday's scrimmage that upset him, most notably a lack of enthusiasm from the players. He added that those on the first team did not have the same temperament as a lot of their backups.

At one point, former walk-on quarterback Stetson Bennett led the second-team offense to a 13-play touchdown drive against the defensive starters.

"Stetson had a good day today," Smart said. "He executed well."

Freshman quarterback D'Wan Mathis, who went through spring practice but had a cyst on his brain removed in May, did not take part in the scrimmage.

Odds and ends

Smart said freshman DJ Daniel has received first-team reps at cornerback with sophomore Tyson Campbell a little "dinged up." Daniel had three tackles and two pass breakups at the G-Day spring game. Freshman receiver Dominick Blaylock, the stepson of Chattanooga Lookouts co-owner John Woods, is in the mix for a return role on special teams. Junior linebacker Nate McBride and freshman tight end Ryland Goede did not scrimmage Saturday.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.

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