Choice ready to shine for Ge­or­gia Tech

The Covington News - - SPORTS - By Paul New­berry

AT­LANTA — Tashard Choice knows he’ll be marked man this sea­son, es­pe­cially with Calvin John­son now play­ing in the NFL.

That’s OK. Choice loves the at­ten­tion.

The se­nior run­ning back is the undis­puted star of the Ge­or­gia Tech of­fense, com­ing off a year in which he led the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence in rush­ing with 1,473 yards. With no ob­vi­ous can­di­dates to steal away the spot­light, Choice is de­ter­mined to put up even bet­ter num­bers in his col­lege finale.

“I’m re­ally just en­joy­ing my se­nior sea­son,” Choice said, who’s been get­ting ad­vice from for­mer Ge­or­gia Tech stars such as John­son and Joe Hamil­ton. “They all miss the col­lege ex­pe­ri­ence, miss be­ing around the fel­lows. I re­ally want to en­joy it. I’m not tak­ing any­thing for granted.”

Choice is one of the team’s most vo­cal play­ers — in a good way, ac­cord­ing to coach Chan Gai­ley.

“ It’s not trash talk,” the coach said. “It’s en­cour­ag­ing, fired-up talk. There’s a big dif­fer­ence in those two.”

If Choice keeps im­prov­ing, he’ll likely put him­self in the mix for All-Amer­ica hon­ors and maybe even get men­tioned as a pos­si­ble Heis­man Tro­phy can­di­date. Those sort of goals make him run even harder.

“I think he en­joys it,” Gai­ley said. “That’s right up his al­ley. If he didn’t have it, I don’t think it would crush him. He is strong enough to han­dle what­ever comes. But lik­ing it? Oh yeah, he likes it.”

Choice knows he’ll need a lot of help from his team­mates — es­pe­cially an ex­pe­ri­enced of­fen­sive line — in or­der to at­tract the na­tional spot­light.

“You re­ally un­der­stand that in col­lege foot­ball, it’s Septem­ber 24, while games will start on or af­ter Oc­to­ber 13.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call Seth Wil­son at (770) 787-3908 or send e-mail to sethw@ym­caat­

more of a team ef­fort for you to reach those goals,” he said. “If I had a chance to do those things, I would be ec­static. That’s some­thing you work for, some­thing you want to do: be an All-Amer­i­can, be a Heis­man can­di­date. But you also un­der­stand what comes with it. It’s a re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

He is likely to draw ex­tra at­ten­tion from op­pos­ing de­fenses, be­gin­ning with Satur­day’s opener at Notre Dame. The Yel­low Jack­ets are break­ing in a new start­ing quar­ter­back (Tay­lor Ben­nett) and have only one re­turn­ing wide­out with dou­ble-fig­ure catches (James John­son).

That said, Choice isn’t con­cerned. He points out that Ge­or­gia Tech had an er­ratic pass­ing game last sea­son, even with Calvin John­son on the re­ceiv­ing end.

“We’ve al­ways been able to run the foot­ball since I’ve been here,” Choice said. “That’s still go­ing to be ground zero for us.”

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