5 things to know about Tashard Choice

Former Tech star Tashard Choice hired by Geoff Collins

Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins hasn’t just hired a promising running-backs coach. He also will be employing a link to the Yellow Jackets’ past.

Tashard Choice, who twice led the ACC in rushing at Tech before going on to a six-year NFL career, was announced Friday as Collins’ first hire. Choice, who has coached at North Texas the past two seasons, starred for Tech 2005-07 after transferring from Oklahoma. Collins was on coach Chan Gailey’s staff in 2006 as the director of player personnel.

“I think Tashard represents the sense that we really want to have the legends of Georgia Tech football program back in the building, back around our players, back out to practice, and just get the energy and the enthusiasm that surrounds Georgia Tech with the great players that made this place so special back around our guys,” Collins said on a teleconference Friday.

After his NFL career, Choice was a coaching intern with the Dallas Cowboys in 2016, then was hired at North Texas as a quality-control assistant in 2017 before being promoted to running-backs coach in 2018. Under Choice’s tutelage this season, North Texas running back Deandre Torrey accumulated 1,182 yards from scrimmage and scored 17 touchdowns and was named second-team all-Conference USA. Choice, from Jonesboro and Lovejoy High, is one of six finalists for running-backs coach of the year from the website Football Scoop.

Collins recalled the passion, energy and leadership ability that Choice demonstrated as a Tech player. Collins said that Choice’s ability “to connect with the elite running backs in the Southeast that we’re going to coach and we’re going to sign is going to be huge for us.”

Collins said further announcements of new assistant coaches will be made after their teams finish their bowl games. Collins specifically mentioned Temple’s bowl game December 27. Defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker and defensive backs coach Nathan Burton are expected to come with Collins, according to a philly.com report.

In a statement, Choice said he was thankful for his time at North Texas but “I can’t wait to serve my players, coaches and community that instilled in me the honor of being a part of the White and Gold.”

Choice has another ardent supporter in one of his quarterbacks at Tech, Taylor Bennett.

“There is not a better personality that fits what coach Collins needs than Tashard Choice,” Bennett told the AJC. “He is the single-most vibrant personality I’ve probably ever played with. He has so much energy, so much passion for the game, loves coaching, loves the boys.”

Collins also addressed the 16-player signing class (not counting two grad transfers). Collins affirmed athletic director Todd Stansbury’s decision to honor the scholarship offers to all prospects who were committed at the time of coach Paul Johnson’s decision to step down from the job after 11 seasons.

Collins said he was excited to have them “and we’ll coach ’em up and plug them into positions that best suits their individual talents and produce a team that go out there and play at a really high level of football.”

He also gave an indication of what lies ahead in future classes.

“The thing that we need to get onto the roster is just length and speed, so that’s going to be a huge priority for us moving forward,” Collins said. “Position flexibility within this transition is going to be huge, but we need to get a lot more length on the roster, especially up front with the o-line and the d-line.”

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