The Right Choice

Choice_medium

This morning I ran across this article in the Star-T that talks about new Dallas Cowboys rookie Tashard Choice. As I was reading it, I thought this all sounds so familiar. Then it dawned on me that it is familiar to me but not to most of you guys. You haven’t spent the last couple of years following Tashard Choice the way I have and all the off the field stories about the quality guy he is including the passage about why he transferred to Georgia Tech from Oklahoma. So I decided to write something up on Tashard to give you guys a better insight into our fourth round Choice. (You knew I was going to have to use that pun eventually)

I don’t know of a GT fan who didn’t love Tashard Choice. He was the heart and soul of the team, some of which can be observed from this YouTube clip I posted after we drafted him. He’s an emotional guy, he put everything he had into any game he played and was a warrior in terms of trying to play even when injured. He never wanted to let his teammates down and it really mattered to him. "My everything, or nothing" was his mantra and he tried to instill that kind of dedication into his teammates.

When he transferred from Oklahoma to GT a lot of people thought it was because Adrian Peterson arrived on campus. While I’m sure that might have entered his mind and made him concerned for playing time, the real reason he transferred was because of his family, more specifically because of his mother. From the Star-T article:

[His mother Rose] Hamm was out of work, having broken her foot, and her other three sons were in trouble with the law.

"I'm real close to my mom," Choice said after a minicamp practice at Valley Ranch. "When she was at the house by herself and couldn't work, I had to come home. If I wanted to leave [because of playing time], I could have gone any other place in the country. But I came home to Georgia Tech, because it's like 15 minutes away from my mom. That's why they granted me the hardship to play [immediately]."

Choice didn’t have to sit out a year after transferring because the NCAA showed some compassion and recognized it was a hardship case. Choice was the ACC rushing leader in 2006 and almost had the title again in 2007. GT was a team that relied on an attacking, all-out blitz defense – I’m not kidding here, we blitzed on 75-80% of our plays – and the workhorse Choice to gobble up the yards on offense. Even though we had the great Calvin Johnson for one year with Choice, we had a QB (Reggie Ball) who was about as accurate as a fortune teller at a carnival. We followed up this past year with another QB who just wasn’t on the level you want from a Division I NCAA team. In essence, the only thing we could really depend on from our offense was Tashard Choice. And our opponents knew this, too. Still, they couldn’t stop him and we gave him the ball over and over.

I’ve given my scouting report on Choice before but I’ll go ahead and repeat it here. He has great vision, he sees the hole and he hits it hard. He’s never going to outrun the secondary but he will make moves to get the extra yards. He’s a tough runner and isn’t afraid of contact. Rarely does he not fall forward during a tackle and pickup the extra yard or two. He can catch the ball out of the backfield although our offense was not geared for him to do that, we utilized some other smaller, speedier guys to handle that. He was prone to picking up nagging injuries but he almost always tried to play through them or he would only miss a game or two and would be back in the lineup.

In the locker room, he was a leader. On the sidelines, he never let his teammates get discouraged and was always seen encouraging them. Like I said before, he’s an emotional guy who wears his feelings on his sleeve. His style of running has been compared to MB3’s, although he’s not that physical, but who is? His personality off the field is diametrically opposed to MB3's who is very quiet and shies away from the spotlight. Not Choice, he’s a people-person who loves to talk and to laugh. He’s a competitor, but will have no problem accepting his role as the third back and I guarantee you he will give everything he has on special teams.

I was a little curious as to why we chose another RB so soon in the draft after picking up Felix Jones in the first round. But I couldn’t have been happier with the player they chose. The Cowboys felt they couldn’t pass on Choice because he was the highest rated player on their board at the time and the running back cupboard was kind of empty going into the draft. From the Star-T:

But Choice was the best player on the Cowboys' draft board at the 122nd pick.

"Even though we had drafted a running back, we just couldn't pass on a player who has all of his qualities, even at that position," [Jerry] Jones said. "... A guy like him should be able to get dressed out and go to the game, because he should be an outstanding special-teams contributor as well.

My guess is that Cowboys fans will start to feel the same way about Tashard Choice as Georgia Tech fans already do. For me, I’m already there given my past two years experience following his exploits on The Flats in Atlanta, GA. Just thought I’d give you guys a heads-up on what kind of player and person you can expect in the form of Tashard Choice. 

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