Going into the season, the running back competition was as stiff as ever with Tavien Feaster, C.J. Fuller, Adam Choice and freshman Travis Etienne all focused on doing what it takes to step up and separate themselves from the rest of the group.
So far each running back has shined in his own way, but Feaster put himself in position to be the man with his strong performance at Louisville last Saturday night. Feaster is steadily improving each game with an average of 9.3 yards per carry.
“I am better because I am appreciative of my opportunities,” Feaster said Tuesday. “I am thankful and I know that every time I get into the game I just have to go. I never know when it’s going to be my last time to prove myself to the coaches.”
Feaster notices the improvements he has personally made since last season especially with his technique.
“Technique wise, really I was just young and fast. I just really improved in between tackles. I got more physical. Ball leverage, my vision, just a lot of areas.”
This week co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tony Elliott really expressed how satisfied he was in Feaster’s performance against the Cardinals as he rushed for 92 yards in 10 carries.
“I know I have to take full advantage so I’m going harder and even if I get tired I know there’s a guy coming in where there won’t be any drop-off,” Feaster said. “I can catch my breath and go back in and be me.”
The sophomore enjoys the competition at his position as it pushes each running back to give it their all because the next guy in line is just as skilled and talented as the previous one.
“It’s great. It’s healthy competition,” Feaster said. “Week in, week out you have to make the most of your opportunities when you get in there. You can’t have a lot of mistakes…those guys are great coming off of the sideline. They are ready to jump in there and play.”
Although Feaster, Fuller, Choice and Etienne are each other’s competition, they are also each other’s teammates and get just as excited for each other as they do for themselves. Feaster specifically spoke about Etienne’s 81-yard touchdown run against Louisville.
“You definitely want to see those guys be successful because we know how hard we work as a group and just to see them have success on Saturdays is great,” Feaster said.
The support and encouragement is not just limited to the running backs, as Feaster has used linebacker Dorian O’Daniel and quarterback Kelly Bryant as role models. Both O’Daniel and Bryant patiently prepared and waited for their time to come. Now that it is here, both are having tremendous success so far this season, which is a daily reminder for Feaster.
“When you see guys like Dorian and Kelly, no matter how down you’re feeling your time is going to come,” Feaster said. “You just have to be patient, stay patient.
“Those guys are prime examples and they are making the most of their opportunities every time they are on the field. So it’s just great, and I’m very happy for them having the success that they’ve had this season.”