CLEMSON—Sometimes being a highly rated recruit doesn’t always pan out the way that you had hoped. Vision of marching on to campus and quickly working your way to the magical starting job, even as a top-recruit, are rarely the case.
Which is exactly the lesson that rising sophomore Tavien Feaster had to learn in his first year with the Tigers.
“It (the lack of playing time) helped me grow up a lot, on and off the field,” Feaster said. “I grew up a lot and appreciated the moments I was on the field.”
The former Mr. Football in the state of South Carolina, Feaster was one of the crown jewels of the 2016 recruiting class. But even with the fanbase clamoring for the new No. 28—which he wears in honor of former Tiger C.J. Spiller—to bring back memories of the old No. 28, Feaster could not overtake incumbent junior Wayne Gallman.
However, it was Feasters time behind Gallman– now with the New York Giants, who would end his career as one of the most decorated running backs in Clemson history—that he learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to be an elite running back at the college level.
“I learned how to practice,” Feaster said. “You have to practice 100-percent every day. He (Gallman) is just a workhorse, and he is grinding every day. He just basically showed why he was the leader of this group and one of the best backs in the country.”
It is his humble, willing-to-learn attitude that has impressed his fellow teammates and, more importantly, the coaching staff.
For co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott there was never a doubt about who would get the bulk of the carries last season, and sometimes that can cause problems with big-time prospects.
“I’ve been very, very, very, very impressed with how he’s handled himself,” Elliott said. “Sometimes you worry about a five-star guy coming in that may have to wait his turn—and rightfully so. Wayne Gallman was the lead do in our room and he wasn’t giving that up.
“As talented as Tavien is, he understood that, but what I’m pleased with the most is he got right in Wayne’s hip. That just shows the maturity that he does want to be great.”
As the summer rolls on and the echoes of fall camp grow ever closer, Feaster understands the opportunity that lays before him—and the other running backs—with Gallman now in the NFL.
“That is definitely what you want to come in thinking,” Feaster said of the starting job. “But even with that, every day you want to out work those guys (the other running backs). Guys like Adam (Choice) and C.J. (Fuller) come to work every day. I really appreciate that. They are pushing me on and off the field. I appreciate having those guys around. I never really had guys pushing me like that—and those guys do that, so I am able to get better.”
And get better is something that his coach has already talked to him about, and Feaster understands that it will take perfecting the little things if he wants to see the field for more than the 37 carries that he amassed last season.
“In order for me to get on the field, I have to be able to pass block,” Feaster said. “Coach explained that to me, and I said, ‘Yes sir.’ I am putting in the overtime and going to work and getting my body ready to just have a shot to win it (the starting job).
“He just wants me to focus on getting better every day, and if I get better then eventually I will fight for that top spot.”