COLUMBIA -- Tavien Feaster was down to two schools in the recruitment process: Virginia Tech and South Carolina.
Both schools were coming off near-500 years, both schools with fourth-year head coaches and both offenses in need of a workhorse running back.
Feaster knew that and knew what both schools had to offer, but only one school had Thomas Brown as its running backs coach.
“For me, it’s going to be funny saying this, it was definitely Coach Brown,” Feaster said of why he chose South Carolina. “He has an amazing track record. I like the way he coaches and the intensity. He’s a guy who’s going to be on you every day and demand your best. That was the biggest deciding factor for me."
Feaster officially committed to South Carolina earlier this month, hoping to be next in a long line of great running backs Brown’s coached over his career that includes Melvin Gordon, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb.
Head coach Will Muschamp brought Brown on staff in January to develop running back talent and bring big backs into the program, and they’re hoping Feaster is exactly that.
It was a long recruitment for Feaster, who decided to transfer after Clemson’s spring practice and didn’t officially commit until early August.
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He visited Columbia multiple times, sitting down and watching film of the Gamecocks’ offense with the coaching staff, including them putting up 35 points against his Clemson team last season.
“When I was going through the process, I sat down with the coaches and watched the film,” Feaster said. “The way the guys play — tough and physical -- when I was watching the film, I definitely loved what I saw and definitely wanted to be a part of it.”
Now Feaster is in practice and learning from Brown as he competes for a potential starting job once the season starts.
He had to miss a few practices after getting an infected tooth pulled, but he’s back at it now and Brown’s lived up to the billing so far though the first half of camp.
“He told me what he expects day in and day out from everyone. He coaches everyone the same. There’s no special treatment,” he said. “Even though I’m just getting here, he still has the same expectations of me knowing the plays and knowing what to do, me finishing runs and doing the things the rest of the guys do. He’s been tough on us and I like it.”
Feaster is still learning the plays and playbook, saying the expectations put on him are to come in “learn the plays and be an accountable guy.”
He’s firmly in the mix to be one of the team’s top backs in Brown’s two-back system.
Feaster’s biggest competition right now are two seniors — Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson — who have been in the program for the last three seasons and are pushing Feaster to be better.
“Those guys are great,” he said. “They bring it every day; they bring the juice every day. You have to stay on your toes every day and compete with them.”