LAURINBURG — The anticipation was palpable as Scotland rising senior Zamir White stood behind five hats representing some of the nation’s top football programs — Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State and North Carolina.
White didn’t waste any time grabbing the Georgia hat and announcing his intent to become part of Dawg Nation. The nation’s No. 1 running back for the Class of 2018 gave a short speech before sporting his newest accessory, a black hat with the “G” for Georgia on it in the middle of the commons at Scotland High School on Tuesday.
“It’s been a real long three years,” he said. “First, I would like to thank God and my family and all of y’all for being here and caring for me. Second of all I would like to thank the school staff for helping me out with this. This thing was hard, it was tough.”
White stepped over to the table next to him, rubbing his hands together as he looked down at the five hats. Without any hesitation he grabbed the Georgia hat and returned to the podium to give the crowd his first, “Dawg Nation baby.”
The verbal commitment came on a day near and dear to White’s heart, his mother Shanee’s birthday. White cannot officially sign his letter of intent to play for the Bulldogs until February 2 — National Signing Day.
Newly appointed Scotland High School principal Brian Edkins returned to the podium after White made his selection to inform the 13 news stations in attendance that Zamir would not be doing any interview or taking questions. Edkins did take a moment to brag on White and wish him well when he leaves Scotland High School in the spring.
“Everyone knows that Zamir is a great football player, but many don’t know what a great person he is. I’ve had the opportunity to watch him interact with other students in the hallway, attending youth baseball games and I’ve always been impressed with how he will answer you yes sir or no sir,” Edkins said. “Whichever school Zamir selects is not only getting a great football player, but they are getting a great person. Zamir, we’re very proud of you and we wish you the best of luck in your next chapter — but, more importantly we’re excited that we still have you for one more year on the field as a Fighting Scot. We’ve got a little unfinished business that we have to take care of.”
Following the ceremony, White did post a lengthy thank you on his Twitter page and explaining why he ultimately chose Georgia.
“This has been a great experience for me and I recognize how fortunate I am because I get to choose where I want to continue my education as well as pursue my dream of having a career in the NFL,” he wrote. “My decision came down to choosing the place where I felt the most comfortable and where I felt confident about my ability to play early and be a major contributor.”
White went on to say his focus is only solely on leading the Fighting Scots to a 4A state championship in December and that he will not be participating in interviews until then.
In picking Georgia, White is following a path taken by two other top running backs from North Carolina — former five-star prospect Keith Marshall and four-star Todd Gurley both signed with the Bulldogs in 2012. Both former Bulldogs were drafted into the NFL, Marshall in 2016 by the Washington Redskins and Gurley in 2015 by the Los Angeles Rams.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound rising senior has been compared to Gurley based on the type of power and speed he has in the backfield. His sophomore year, the Scots running back rushed for 2,159 yards and 41 touchdowns.
He followed that up with over 1,000 rushing yards during his junior year, despite injuries and illness that caused him to miss several games at the beginning of the season. White finished the 2016-17 season with 188 carries for 1,772 yards and 27 touchdowns leading Scotland to its sixth straight 4A Southeastern Conference championship.
White also earned several postseason accolades, including the N.C. Gatorade Player of the Year, a place on the MaxPreps’ Junior All-American team and a first-team selection for the 4A Southeastern Conference. He also earned a spot on the Associated Press’ all-state prep team.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.