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Tashard Choice: Patience and Perseverence

Tashard Choice knows all about patience and perseverance. Throughout the course of his football life, Tashard has most definitely had his fill of playing the waiting game. So when he first looked up at the Dallas Cowboys depth chart and saw his name beneath those of Marion Barber and Felix Jones, he had little reason to be discouraged. Because of the lessons he learned in college, Choice had to have known that his time would eventually come.

When he initially arrived on the University of Oklahoma Campus in 2003, the waiting game began for Tashard Choice. Due to a surplus of running back talent on campus including upperclassmen Kejuan Jones and Renaldo Works, Choice was red-shirted his first season. Choice returned as a red-shirt freshman in 2004, only to find himself trapped behind Jones, and the phenomenal freshman sensation Adrian Peterson. After the season, Choice transferred to Georgia Tech. The move was not however football related, as the Jonesboro, Georgia native wanted to be closer to home to be with his mother who had fallen ill late in the season.

New school. New scenery. Familiar situation. As a red-shirt sophomore at Georgia Tech, Choice once again found himself stuck behind an established runner, senior P.J. Daniels. Some say that success occurs when opportunity and preparation intersect. Rather than lose hope or faith, Choice kept himself ready and waited for his big opportunity.

After Daniels was injured during practice prior to the Yellow Jackets’ November 19, 2005 showdown with the University of Miami, Choice was called on to make his first collegiate start. Seizing the moment, Choice filled in nicely rushing for 84 yards as Georgia Tech secured a bowl bid by knocking off the #3 Hurricanes. Daniels would reclaim his starting role for the balance of the season, but Choice had made his mark. His performance against Miami was enough to prove to the Georgia Tech coaching staff that they had their man for 2006.

Over the next two seasons Choice would post 2,783 rushing yards. Choice led the ACC in rushing as a junior, and was named First Team All-ACC as a senior. After his senior season, Choice performed brilliantly at the Senior Bowl, and was later selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

Just as before, Choice found himself buried on the Cowboys depth chart. But when injuries to starter Marion Barber and fellow rookie Felix Jones forced Choice into his first NFL start, the rookie had to have a feeling of déjà vu. December 7, 2008 Tashard Choice made his first NFL start against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Looking very little like a rookie, Choice tallied 166 total yards against the league’s top-ranked defense. With Barber hobbled for the rest of the season, Choice continued to play well down the stretch.

It is improbable that Choice will be the Cowboys’ starter in 2009. But much like he did at Georgia Tech, Choice did enough with his big opportunity to show the Cowboys’ coaching staff that they have a guy to lean on in a pinch. Choice has proven over the course of his career that he is a hard man to keep down. Don’t be surprised if Choice eventually finds a way to push his way to the forefront in Dallas.

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