Choice: In Disbelief

IRVING, Tex. - It's hard to quantify players at a weekend mini-camp like the one that took place last weekend at Valley Ranch. Who's the happiest to be a Cowboy? Hard to say. The most enthusiastic practice player? A lot to choose from.

But the player who showed the most surprise and disbelief all weekend had to be running back Tashard Choice.

It's an emotion with which he has been all too familiar.

When he enrolled at Oklahoma after high school, he envisioned himself as the Sooners' starting running back of the future. A year later, Adrian Peterson enrolled at OU, and Choice transferred to Georgia Tech. He was surprised when he got drafted by Dallas, which already had plucked Arkansas' Felix Jones in the first round. Then, during mini-camp, he was diligently going through drills, when he looked up and saw … Emmitt Smith.

Choice said just getting picked by the Cowboys was a bit of a shock.

"You're always surprised, but I was ecstatic, too," Choice said. "I've played football since I was a kid, and I grew up (in Riverdale, Ga.), watching the Cowboys, so I heard Dallas had drafted me, I couldn't stop yelling."

Choice admitted that while they're competing at the same position, he felt an immediate kinship with Jones, since they're working together after being chosen in the same draft.

"We can't have any kind of rivalry or anything — it's all about the team," Choice said. "He's going to push me, I'm going to push him, and we'll make each other better players. I met him at the (NFL) Combine — we're cool."

Choice's most exciting surprise, however, was when he looked up and saw Smith, the former Dallas star who is the NFL's all-time rushing leader and now an analyst for ESPN.

"I love '22.' He's the reason I wore that number, because of him," Choice said. "I told him 'nice to meet you,' and he already knew who I was, which surprised me. He told us a lot of things, and obviously, if you're a running back, you listen to everything he says."

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