South Carolina finished 91st in the nation in average rushing yards per game last season. One of the reasons could possibly be attributed to their mediocre 7-6 overall finish in 2018.
However, help may be on the way in an unfamiliar form, as it was announced July 29th that former star Clemson running back Tavien Feaster would transfer to the University of South Carolina to complete his final season of college football eligibility.
A Spartanburg native, Feaster was the number-one overall football recruit in the Palmetto State in 2016 and the 14th rated overall prospect in the nation, according to 247 Sports. Feaster was a key contributor for Clemson, holding one dubious record in the program’s history: he was the second all-time in “average yards per carry” with 5.99 yards per attempt. On top of that, he had 1,330 yards during his time with the Tigers.
The problem, though, was that he somehow still trailed another running back on the Clemson depth chart: Travis Etienne, a rising junior who was ranked as the 14th overall running back in the nation according to 247 Sports. Etienne edged out Feaster for the position as a freshman.
Chris Miller, a longtime head coach at Spartanburg High School, coached the Gamecocks newcomer from 2012-2015, when he played for the Vikings. Only 54 miles away from Clemson, he knows one thing about the Tigers: they’re an annual College Football Playoff contender, and the competition is tough.
“There’s only one football, and they’ve got to share that,” he said.
After a record-setting season in 2018, Etienne was a top-ten finisher at the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York during December, and rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2018. On top of that, he helped clinch the Tigers 52 14 opening win against Georgia Tech Thursday night, finishing with a 205-yard, three touchdown performance.
Talk about tough competition.
Eric Douglas, a Clemson Football beat reporter with the Spartanburg Union-Times, said that Feaster “obviously felt that he didn’t get the playing time that he felt he deserved.” Thus, he decided to inter the NCAA transfer portal for his final season, and the decision came down to the home state Gamecocks and Virginia Tech.
Douglas believes that Feaster is a workhorse running back that could carry the load for any Power Five school, and that the transfer player “just felt that Columbia was the best place for him,” and that the Gamecocks could utilize him.
Feaster is a phenomenal player who didn’t get to showcase his full skill set at Clemson, said Miller. The Vikings coach said that Feaster has gotten bigger and bulkier, which may lead some people to think that he has lost some of his speed.
Despite the fact that Feaster got bigger, it shouldn’t slow down him down, according to Douglas.
The Clemson beat writer, who’s covered Feaster since his hometown high school days, recalled his ability. He said Feaster still holds a state record in track and field. “He was such a burner in high school,” Douglas recalled.
Feaster should also be an asset to the Gamecocks at the wide receiver position, Miller said. As Feaster’s high school coach, Miller would often spilt him out at wide receiver and try to feature him with one-on-one action.
From experience, Miller knows that Feaster should do well in space as a wide receiver, despite that Clemson didn’t give him as many reps at the position. He had a total of 23 receptions for 183 yards during his time in the upstate. Douglas said Feaster has a solid package of speed, power, and muscle, and is good at breaking tackles. “They want to get the ball in his hands as much as possible
because he’s a dynamic player,” he said.
The Gamecocks’ new running back participated in spring drills at Clemson, which Douglas said he found surprising.
Feaster also drew raves from an anonymous Clemson assistant coach when he had a lunch conversation with C.J Spiller, according to Douglas. The coach said that he was on track to have a great senior season.
While he may be gone from his former team, there’s no “beef” between him and his old teammates. Trevor Lawrence said that he was well-liked, and didn’t think he had ill-willed intentions when picking South Carolina.
Swinney described it as a football decision, said Douglas. Both Douglas and Miller said that Swinney’s biggest concern was that he would graduate. “That was one of the main goals. We were so proud of him,” Miller said.
From one Palmetto State school to the other, Feaster is both a high-quality player and human being. He had a big presence in the locker room and was well-liked by his teammates at both Spartanburg and Clemson, Douglas and Miller agreed.
Feaster spent a lot of time in his hometown this summer and was very involved with the youth in his community, according to Miller.