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How Feaster could potentially fit into running back rotation

SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS FOOTBALL

It’s been right around a month since Tavien Feaster first started practicing with South Carolina, and all the headlines and stories about him leaving Clemson to come to play under Will Muschamp and Thomas Brown have all been written.

Now comes the important part with the Gamecocks needing to figure out where Feaster fits into the team’s running back rotation.

Tavien Feaster || Photo by Chris Gillespie
Tavien Feaster || Photo by Chris Gillespie

“I’m going to leave it up to Muschamp and Coach Brown to handle the rotation,” Feaster said. “When it’s my turn, my opportunity, I’ll go in there and capitalize.”

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The graduate transfer with 1,330 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in his career is listed as the starter in the backfield with Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson. The only thing separating them, at least on paper, is the word OR in big, bold letters.

That means the only people who know for sure which guys will shoulder the bulk of the load in Brown’s two-back system are the coaches.

From all accounts, Dowdle is in the midst of a really good preseason and is staying healthy while Denson has rattled off a few big plays over the course of fall camp.

Quarterback Jake Bentley understands how hard it is for a running back in the SEC and the physical demands the position requires, which is why he likes having three guys who can perform at a high level.

“Ideally, put them all out there and whoever’s hot and running good let him keep going,” he said. “I don’t know the official plan, that’s between the coaches, but I know whoever’s out there is going to run hard and do whatever they can to move the ball on the ground.”

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Last year the Gamecocks’ running game struggled at times, averaging 152.8 yards per game but they were held to under 100 yards four times in 2018.

They brought Feaster in to boost the running back room and foster some added competition between him and the rest of the veteran backs.

Feaster enrolled in school and began practice soon after preseason camp started and thinks he’s caught on quick to what the Gamecocks are trying to do schematically.

“I believe I’ve progressed a lot over the camp and learned a lot. I’m up to speed,” he said. “With my knowledge of football, it’s not like a freshman walking through the door. I believe I’m highly intelligent when it comes to football. I believe I’m on the right track.”

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Bentley says Feaster’s done a “tremendous job coming in here and blocking out all of the obvious external factors” during camp.

He’s focused solely on getting better and soaking up as much of the offense as he can in a condensed window before the team’s first game.

His coaches raved about his work ethic in training camp and say he has a versatile skill set where he can make guys miss in the run game but also catches the ball well out of the backfield.

So even if Feaster doesn’t take the team’s first snap at running back Saturday, he’s definitely worked himself into role on this offense.

"He handles things in a first-class manner, comes to everything early, works his butt off, does everything that is asked of him,” Muschamp said. “I've been overly pleased with Tavien and his work ethic and his buy in with everything he has done for our program. You research these things and you kind of talk to people and you say, 'Hey man, this guy is a good guy. He's a good program guy.' It's always tough when you want to bring a senior into a good locker room, which we've got a good locker room. He has been a great teammate."