Running back Tavien Feaster knew when he signed with Clemson, he’d have to be patient.
He knew his opportunities as a freshman would likely be limited playing behind All-ACC performer Wayne Gallman.
A former five-star recruit and the center of attention at Spartanburg High, Feaster is averaging less than three offensive touches per game. The new role is taking some time to get used to, and Feaster is leaning on running backs coach Tony Elliott .
“Some days I find it difficult to do, cause you ask yourself, ‘Gah, do you really want to wait?’ But then I know I’ve got to be patient,” Feaster said. “I pray that I made the right decision. Coach Elliott, he talks to me, so I know I made the right decision. He’s a great man. He wouldn’t mislead me, misguide me in any way or waste my time. The choice, it’s been hard, but I know it’s going to pay off in the end.”
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Feaster committed to Clemson on Signing Day of his junior year of high school and never seriously wavered on his pledge, despite being offered by just about every major program in the country.
“In recruiting they’re going to tell you, ‘Aw man, this guy can’t do that, this guy can’t do this,’ but that’s a way to get you in here,” he said. “They wouldn’t be at the Division I level playing at Clemson University if they couldn’t do the task that was at hand. I knew it was the trick of the trades, but I came in ready to work.”
Feaster spent most of his career at Spartanburg with the ball in his hands, so learning to play without the ball has been the biggest adjustment. He believes he’s made substantial progress as far as pass blocking and reading blitzes and coverages.
“I knew it would take some time,” he said. “Once I have patience and get well at blocking and technique-wise and all of that good stuff, I’m going to be a pretty special player.”
Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott agreed learning to play without the ball is what’s keeping Feaster from getting more opportunities.
“There’s a lot of things that are involved in playing running back other than just going out there and running the zone or running a long touchdown,” Scott said. “But I think he’s been improving every week, and hopefully he’ll continue to come along.”
Feaster has made the most of his limited opportunities, rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. He leads Clemson in yards per carry at 8.7, and is second on the team with two rushing touchdowns.
He had his longest run last Friday against Boston College, sprinting for a 45-yard touchdown.
“It was a big play for me, a boost in confidence just to remind myself that I still have that breakaway speed. I still am capable of playing at such a high level,” Feaster said. “I know that I’m pushing myself and giving these coaches a look of the future of the program.”
Who: Clemson (6-0, 3-0 ACC) vs. N.C. State (4-1, 1-0)
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium