As one of the rising stars on Steve Sarkisian’s staff, Texas Longhorns running backs coach Tashard Choice was named the Rivals Big 12 Recruiter of the Year this week for his efforts landing two consensus four-star running backs in the 2024 class.
Choice opted to deflect the praise, thanking the Texas support staff, which just promoted four key members of the recruiting operation, and the families of the players he recruited.
To all in the organization that work hard as a unit to get the right players and the families that give us the honor to recruit and coach your kids . I just wanna say thank you to all cause Lord knows it’s not me. https://t.co/PFyCmJjE8v— Coach Choice (@coachchoice) February 9, 2024
After landing the consensus No. 1 running back in the 2023 class, CJ Baxter out of Florida, Choice maintained the momentum he built on the recruiting trail in the following cycle.
Despite a strong in-state class that featured four of the top 10 running backs nationally, Choice opted to look out of state, targeting Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy’s Jerrick Gibson and Phoenix (Ariz.) Mountain Pointe’s Christian Clark as his two top targets.
Unsurprisingly given Choice’s burgeoning reputation as one of the best recruiters at his position in the country — and one of the best overall — Texas was able to land both players during the summer.
A 5’10, 215-pounder, Gibson committed during an official visit on June 24 after Georgia and Miami hosted him on previous official visits. Gibson chose Texas over more than 20 other offers, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and USC, among others. More important, Choice was able to maintain Gibson’s commitment despite continued in-state interest and land a signature from the nation’s No. 9 running back on Early Signing Day.
“Jerrick Gibson is a real runner, I mean, this guy can run the ball,” said Sarkisian in December. “Obviously, coming out of IMG, another really good program. But he is a physical runner, he’s a home-run hitter. I think his ability to run between the tackles and the way that we like to run the ball is a great fit. And again, I think culturally, just an awesome young man that’s gonna fit really well into our culture.”
Clark committed to the Longhorns two days before Gibson and less than a week after an official visit to the Forty Acres. Florida State and Oregon hosted Clark on official visits before his decision, which resulted in the cancelation of a planned trip to Georgia. Alabama, Auburn, Miami, Ole Miss, Tennessee, USC, and Washington were among the other schools to offer the nation’s No. 4 running back, according to Rivals, who received a lofty comparison from Sarkisian during his evaluation.
“Christian Clark fits who we are offensively. I jokingly said, I remember writing my report up on him, I wrote Bijan Robinson with a question mark. Because he almost looks like [Bijan], the way he plays, the color of the uniforms. He runs the ball. He’s got great balance and body control. He catches the ball extremely well out of the backfield. He’s an extremely humble young man. Great family. I just think he’s a great fit for what we do systematically, but also from a culture standpoint,” said Sarkisian.
Gibson and Clark join a stacked running back room that includes Baxter, junior Jaydon Blue, junior Savion Red, and sophomore Tre Wisner, a group that arguably ranks as the deepest in the country at the position if not the best overall.
Choice also served as the secondary recruiter for wide receiver Ryan Wingo, the second-highest rated player in the recruiting class, and is the primary recruiter for 2025 tight end commit Emaree Winston and 2026 running back commit Raycine Guillory Jr..
As Texas leaves out of the Big 12 and enters the SEC, moving its recruiting footprint into the Southeast, Choice’s ability to recruit Florida and his home state and Georgia will only become more important for the Longhorns.