Clemson had just scored its second touchdown of the night at Boston College, which was set up by a 50-yard diving catch by Mike Williams.
The bench was feeling loose. Things could not have gone any better for the third-ranked Tigers to start a game.
As running back Wayne Gallman was coming back to the sideline, he noticed other running backs on the team—Tyshon Dye, C.J. Fuller and Tavien Feaster—were laughing and joking around. Gallman walked over to them and said, “We are going to blow them out. You are going to play.”
At the time the three backs were laughing and making jokes about the weather, but once Gallman spoke to them, they knew they needed to focus.
“Once he said that, we knew what his intentions were and we got in the game,” Feaster said.
All three did get in the game. Dye carried the ball three times for 11 yards and scored on a three-yard run early in the fourth quarter, while Fuller had two carries for the nine yards.
As for Feaster, who had not carried the ball since his 83-yard performance on 12 carries against S.C. State, he rushed for 56 yards on just four carries, including a 45-yard touchdown run with 3:09 left in the game.
As Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney likes to say, Feaster put it into fifth gear.
“I felt really comfortable when I ran the ball there. I just let it loose,” the true freshman said. “I did not think on that play. Usually, I would be thinking, ‘Okay if he goes here, I have to do that.’ You can’t do that. You have to have confident and that is what I did.”
As the longest gain of his short career, it’s a run Feaster says can go a long way in helping him with his confidence, especially when it comes to returning kicks, an area he has struggled a little bit with so far this season.
“I barely played special teams in high school. I was back there as a decoy so they would not kick the ball as deep,” he said. “But now in college, they don’t respect me as much because I’m a freshman. They want to see what I can do.
“When I go out there and have my shot, I just can’t think. I have to run. I believe if I hit (the hole), I will break one, a big run on a kick return. I just have to go out there and play.”
Currently, Feaster is ranked third on the team, second among running backs, in rushing yards with 139. He is averaging 8.7 yards per carry, which leads the team, while he is second on the squad with two rushing touchdowns.
Some people think Feaster has proven he can play at this level and should be on the field more, but Feaster isn’t one of these people. He isn’t saying anything. He is just coming to work every day and is trying to be the best teammate he can be.
“It is going to take time for me to get on the field. I know you are going to have days when you are up and days that you are down, but if you are a humbled guy and you stay humbled to yourself, you will put your best foot forward,” Feaster said.
Feaster’s humility and attitude are two of the things Swinney likes the most about his talented running back.
“We don’t have a guy with a better attitude on the team than Tavien Feaster. He has just come in and worked, mouth shut and grinding,” Swinney said. “He’s very low maintenance. He just shows up and works.
“He’s got great respect for the veterans and the areas he needs to improve, but he’s really made great progress since our camp and has a bright future.”
Feaster says he is glad his head coach and the other coaches have noticed his attitude and his work ethic.
“I really appreciate he has taken notice,” Feaster said. “I could get frustrated some days. I could be negative, but I’m not. I just think it is a work in progress. That’s all I have to remind myself of and keep pushing forward even when I get down on myself. I know I have the next day to get better and the next day after that.”
Feaster, a five-star recruit coming out of Spartanburg (S.C.) High School who could have gone and played anywhere, said he isn’t frustrated by his lack of serious playing time this season. He knows he just has to wait his turn.
“I didn’t think that at all because you are going to have to earn it wherever you go,” he said. “They are going to tell you in recruiting, ‘Man you can come in and you are going to play right away,’ but I’m not slow. I know you are going to have to earn it wherever you want to go. It’s been fun so far, though.”