It finally hit Tavien Feaster that he transferred to South Carolina while he was standing in his new Gamecock uniform during a promotional photoshoot.
He took a deep breath, looked down and said to himself, “I’m here. Let’s go. Let’s do it.’”
Feaster — a 5-11, 220-pound running back who was part of Clemson’s 2016 and 2018 national championship teams — rushed for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns in three seasons with the Tigers.
A Spartanburg High School product, he will step into a Gamecock ground attack that rushed for 1,996 yards (4.5 yards per carry) last season, a clip that ranked 12th in the 14-team SEC.
“I believe these guys have what it takes,” Feaster responded to a question about the Gamecocks being a “championship-level” team.
“Camp has been, day in and day out, tough, physical,” he said. “I like it. We’re competing every day against each other.”
He has enjoyed competing with fellow running backs Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson and being mentored by running backs coach Thomas Brown.
“He has an amazing track record and I like the way he coaches, with intensity,” Feaster said. “He’s a guy that’s going to be on you every day and demands your best. That was the biggest deciding factor [in coming here] for me.”
Feaster has been a non-contact participant in several practices since arriving on campus on Aug. 3 because of an infected tooth, but he is now full-contact.
“A little bit out of shape with the heat,” Feaster joked. “But I’m getting there, putting in the extra work after every practice.”
South Carolina got in contact with Feaster “a couple of days” after he made his decision to leave the Clemson program, according to the running back.
He mentioned several times on Thursday about how he wasn’t worried about perception or anyone else’s thoughts on him transferring to an in-state rival.
“I just needed more opportunity for myself and to try to get myself in a better position for things ahead,” he said. “It was a decision I had to make for myself.”
Along with Brown, another factor in Feaster’s decision to come to South Carolina was how the Gamecocks played in the team’s 56-35 loss to Clemson last season.
“The way those guys played, tough, physical. When I watched the film, I definitely loved what saw. I definitely wanted to be a part of that,” Feaster said. “… But obviously I thought this was the best place for me to come in right away and help the team out.”
“He’s a hard worker and a talented young man,” South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp said earlier this month. “I’m excited he’s here. … We knew Tavien from recruiting him before. He’s a good young man. He’s got a great family. We reached out to him to see his interest in South Carolina and he came down a couple of times and really enjoyed it and felt like he fit in here.
“It’s a good opportunity for us and him.”
“He’s a great receiver out of the backfield and has great hands. So we’ll see what he can do,” Gamecock running backs coach Thomas Brown said earlier this month. “ … I don’t care if you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or transfer, the best guy is going to play.”
Brown briefly recruited Feaster when the former coached at Georgia and the latter was a prized recruit at Spartanburg High School.
“I spent some time around him and his family, so we have a small, brief history,” the coach said. “But [before he came to South Carolina], we talked about the opportunity to be able to put him in a good spot for his future but also to help our team out.”
Brown has been impressed with Feaster’s preparation.
“Once he announced he was coming to us, I kind of met with him maybe two times individually before practice started,” Brown said. “And he picked the offense up really fast. I love the way he goes about his business.”