Note: The following appears in the Louisville gameday football program
It’s time to put some rumors to rest. Adam Choice does not have a gray beard. He does not have a national championship ring from both the 1981 and 2016 squads. Contrary to what some may believe, Choice was not a letterman on Dabo Swinney’s 2008 squad.
While Choice in reality has only been at Clemson for five years, the positive attitude and solid leadership skills displayed during those seasons will leave an example for a long time.
Choice, who earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from Clemson in December 2017, was a highly-rated prospect when he chose the Tigers following a stellar high school career at Thomas County Central High School in Thomasville, Ga. He was rated as one of the 10-best high school running backs in the country by Rivals.
The decision to matriculate to Clemson was made after Choice seeing first-hand what Swinney was building in Tigertown.
“I felt at home at Clemson,” recalled Choice. “Thomasville is a small town and Clemson had the same type of feel. I could tell the coaches here had my best interests in mind and I wanted to be a part of something special.”
Another reason he picked the Tigers was an opportunity to play early. Swinney and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott stress that the best players play and time on the field is earned. The close relationship with Elliott is still there today.
“Every player, whether it be a running back, wide receiver or defensive back, knows there is going to be competition every day,” explained #26. “If you work hard and are the best player, you are going to play.
“Coach Elliott is a role model for all of us. He treats people the way you want to be treated. To be around someone as genuine as coach Elliott is a blessing.”
The confidence the Clemson coaches had in Choice became clear early in his time as a Tiger. During his first career game against SC State in 2014, he had 74 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He moved into the starting role by the time Clemson played at Boston College in mid-October, moving ahead of current New York Giant Wayne Gallman.
But the success displayed would take a detour, as Choice tore his ACL at Boston College. The injury and rehab associated with it forced him to miss the remainder of the 2014 season and all of the 2015 campaign.
“It was miserable,” admitted Choice. “After I got hurt, Wayne had taken over the starting spot and was doing great. Once I got healthy, I was scratching and clawing to get back into the rotation. I was down on myself and things were not happening like I thought they would.”
It would have been easy for Choice to continue to have doubts, but his strong family and support group would not allow him to give into self doubt.
“At one point, I began to wonder if I would ever be back. But after talking to my parents, Clement and Patricia Choice, and my support group, I began to find joy and peace. I knew if I continued to work, things would work out for me. It is still a process and not complete, but the progress I have made is very satisfying.”
Choice’s determination and grit became clear during Clemson’s run to the 2016 national championship. He saw action in 11 games, as the year ended with confetti falling from the sky in Tampa, Fla., following a thrilling win over Alabama. It is a night he will remember for many reasons.
“There were so many things that could have gone wrong against Alabama. When Jalen Hurts scored with a little over two minutes left, we could have hung our heads. But C.J. Fuller started us off with a huge kickoff return, then our playmakers made plays. We were a team desperate to win.”
The mention of his former teammate, Fuller, is poignant for several reasons. It also serves as a reminder to never take anything in life for granted. On Oct. 3, Fuller, who had earned his degree from Clemson in August, passed away unexpectedly. The loss of a close friend and teammate is still hard to fathom for Choice.
“C.J.’s passing really hit close to home. No one should take anything for granted. For him to pass really put things into perspective. It has been really tough and I will always miss him and love him. It has allowed me to understand that I need to be grateful for every day that we have. Tomorrow is not promised.”
Choice’s decision to honor his close relationship with Fuller was on display for all to see three days after his friend’s passing. Playing at Wake Forest on Oct. 6, Choice posted a career-high 128 rushing yards, including a career-long 64-yard touchdown jaunt.
Overcoming a severe knee injury and personal hardships make Choice a perfect example of how the younger running backs and all players on this Clemson squad can learn from a veteran in the meeting room and on the practice field.
“My leadership style is to be the best I can be in everything I do. I have always been a person who goes about things the right way. I want to lead by my actions and what I do and say.
“When I came to Clemson, guys like C.J. Davidson and D.J. Howard showed me what was expected on the field and in the classroom. I want to be remembered in the same manner. I want people to say I never gave up and kept pushing to be the best.”
As the Tigers enter the November portion of the schedule, or what Swinney calls “championship season,” Choice is excited about the possibilities that await this team.
“We have a veteran team that never stops fighting. It may not be pretty all the time, but if we continue to fight, anything is possible. The leadership and toughness of this team tells me there are some special moments ahead.”