When fall camp began on Aug. 3, Tavien Feaster was listed No. 3 on Clemson’s preseason depth chart at running back, behind juniors C.J. Fuller and Adam Choice. Sixteen days later, Feaster has moved up one spot on the depth chart and has overtaken the No. 2 spot, and he is close to grabbing the No. 1 spot as well.
Clemson co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott said Feaster got off to a slow start in camp, but he has really come on strong as of late. Earlier this week, he said Feaster is sharing first-team reps with Fuller.
However, Feaster believes he still has a lot of work to do. The Spartanburg, S.C., native was not pleased with his effort during the Tigers’ situational scrimmage earlier this week in Death Valley.
“I just started off making a couple of mistakes,” he said. “I feel like I let my teammates down coming out. It was just small things, not paying attention to the details but I just have to get better and grow from that.”
And that’s where Feaster has grown. Unlike last year, he is recognizing where he is both physically and mentally. He says there have been days in camp where he is doing just enough to get by and he knows that isn’t going to win him the job.
“I want to be a lot more here than what I am now,” he said. “I feel like some days I just play to get by but I have to turn it up these last couple of days of camp to show (the coaches) that I am worthy of playing this year.”
“It’s probably just a mental thing … I just have to keep my head in it for the whole practice and just keep going,” he later continued.
From a physical standpoint, Feaster is definitely in position to play more this season. He added 10 pounds to his 5-foot-11 frame and checked in to camp weighing 220 pounds.
“I didn’t really have much of an option,” he said. “I was just trying to get my body ready for the season and just try to prepare myself the best that I could to go against this heavy competition.”
Though he was a little down on himself following the situational scrimmage, Feaster admits from a mental toughness standpoint he has improved a lot since last year. He is not harping on his mistakes too long and he is moving on a lot faster than he was a year ago.
“If I mess up on pass protection, just knock it off and go to the next play. I can get them on the next play,” he said. “Just not letting it bother me the whole practice and not letting it be on my mind the whole time. I just need to brush it off and just keep going. Next play mentality.”
The biggest jump Feaster has made has come in his technique, especially in pass protection. It was his inability to consistently read defenses that kept him off the field for a majority of 2016 and it is something he spent a lot of time with Elliott working on and improving in the off-season.
Feaster says he has made the proper adjustments with his footwork and with the basic techniques, such as knowing when to use his hands at the proper time. He also has improved in reading defenses and recognizing where a blitz is coming from and who he is responsible for.
“I feel like it’s going in the right direction,” he said. “I still have a few things I need to clean up but overall I feel like I have gotten a lot better since last year in improving my technique and just the will and the want to do it.”
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