Feaster overcomes injury, ready to shine on the big stage
|Friday, September 16, 2016, 8:01 PM- -|
CLEMSON- Coming to Clemson, Tavien Feaster knew that he was brought here to be something special, but the speedster had to get healthy before he could show the coaches and the fans why he draws comparisons to C.J. Spiller.
Feaster put up staggering numbers at Spartanburg (SC) finishing his career with 459 carries for 3,703 yards and 40 touchdowns and 153 catches for 2,715 yard and 35 scores.
His success in high school, along with his speed and athleticism led many make the comparison to Clemson's 'Lightning' legend. Not only do Feaster and Spiller have a lot of the same football qualities, but they also were both track stars in high school, and both share the love for the No. 28 – Spiller's number was retired during a ceremony in 2010.
However, in July, Spiller told TigerNet that he would allow Feaster to wear the number, but only under one condition – there were certain obligations and standards that he must uphold or else the jersey will be " put back in the closet" if those standards were not met.
“It stands for your character, how you conduct yourself in the community, how you treat your teammates, academically - how are you doing, so there are a lot of obligations that have to be fulfilled throughout this whole four year course that he has,” Spiller said. “I expressed that to Coach Swinney and I expressed that to him - if he deviates from his obligations, that number will get put back in the closet at any point in your career.
“It's not one of those numbers that you can wear and just do whatever. If I'm hearing stories about him getting in trouble with the law or not wanting to go to class, then he'll be having a different number next season, but just talking to him I don't think that will be the case. He assured me that he'll make the number proud and he knew that it was a tough decision for me to allow him to wear it, but he was very grateful and very humbled that I even was letting him doing. I'm excited about it and I'm looking forward to seeing him grow as a player and as a person over these next four years and obviously seeing No. 28 back out on the field again.”
Feaster says that it has been a real honor being compared to one of Clemson’s most prolific playmakers.
“It’s been an honor and very special just to be brought up in the conversation with C.J. Spiller. He’s a great guy and what he did for this school was unbelievable,” Feaster said earlier this week. “I can be a speed guy but my game is very physical too. I just want to be a great football player like he was.”
However, before he could show every aspect of his game, his first priority was getting his shoulder and knee healthy.
“The last two years of high school, my health was one of my biggest concerns,” Feaster said. “Not being able to get in the weight room like I wanted to in high school because of the shoulder injury. Then, my senior year I messed up my knee a little bit. I knew I had to get healthy before I could do anything else.
My shoulder is about 95 percent right now. When I first got here, I didn't want anybody to touch it or be touched, so I was a little skittish. I knew it was football and that I had to turn it on and play, so when I got I that in the back of my mind, it was like, 'Hey, it's over and it's going to heal, but it's going to hurt some days. Go through with it.' That really made a difference for me.”
The injuries and the shyness of Feaster led head coach Dabo Swinney to say that he wanted Feaster to take his game to another level, something the former 5-star did by just having fun and playing football instead of worrying making mistakes.
“He was saying that I was playing with a good pace, but that I needed to kick it up a notch. They brought me here to be special and that’s what I needed to do. I think I just stopped trying to play mistake free and just play football. When I first got here, I was trying not to make mistakes and was trying to be perfect, but I understand that you're going to mess up either way it goes, so you have to play 100-percent, full-speed all of the time.”
While Feaster has only been on the field on special teams – a 22-yard kickoff return against Troy – he didn’t deny there were plenty of butterflies when he stepped out onto Frank Howard Field last weekend.
"It felt really, really good and special to be out there and be apart of the team now,” Feaster said of his Clemson debut. “I got nervous once they told me I was gonna start on the kickoff return. I was like alright, I can't make any mistakes and just go out there and handle business."
When he finally gets his opportunity on offense, he plans to make the most of it.
"Definitely, I would of liked to have played (at Auburn), but I have to wait and I know it takes time to get where those guys are like Wayne (Gallman),” Feaster said. “I expect my role to be handling kicks getting in and getting the opportunity when my name is called. I think I can be special in this offense just by the way I catch the ball and the things they do with the backs. We get the ball on flat routes, out in space and I can make a guy miss in space.”