COLUMBIA — Will Muschamp finally has a running back.
Clemson graduate transfer Tavien Feaster committed to South Carolina on Monday, ending a summer of speculation. Feaster was always expected to be a Gamecock but entertained offers from other schools. Ever since he declared his intention to transfer from the national champion Tigers in April following the loss of his starting job, USC seemed like the natural destination. After giving Virginia Tech heavy consideration, Feaster made it happen just before preseason camp began.
Feaster's move to USC was considered more and more likely as the summer progressed, with one source telling The Post and Courier he had already moved into his Columbia home. A picture that leaked out Sunday night shows Feaster’s new locker at USC, complete with jersey No. 4. The No. 28, Feaster’s number in high school and at Clemson, was already taken.
USC receiver Bryan Edwards later Tweeted, “that 4 look nice.”
Feaster announced the news himself on Instagram on Monday afternoon, posting a picture of himself in uniform in his new locker.
Feaster announced his transfer in April and is days away from completing his Clemson degree. Once he graduates, he’s eligible to enroll at USC.
Clemson’s summer semester ends Aug. 5. The Gamecocks begin training camp on Friday. Muschamp will discuss preseason practice on Thursday but cannot comment on any prospective players until they have been cleared to enroll.
The decision immediately stabilizes a position that has been spotty for years. Rico Dowdle has been considered the best back on the roster during his entire career but injuries have sapped his production. Backup A.J. Turner dabbled at defensive back last season and Mon Denson is more of a short-yardage, specialized back.
While Muschamp is adamant that everybody earns their spot and nobody is given anything, having a talent like Feaster gives the Gamecocks an opportunity to rely on a workhorse back. They haven’t had one since Mike Davis finished his career in 2014.
A prep All-American, five-star prospect and South Carolina's “Mr. Football” Award recipient out of Spartanburg High in 2016, Feaster finished three seasons at Clemson with the second-best yards-per-carry average in program history (5.99, behind current starter Travis Etienne’s 7.79). He rushed for 1,330 yards and caught 23 passes for 183 yards, accumulating 16 touchdowns in three seasons.
Feaster started 11 of 41 games and was part of two national championship teams, becoming known as the best blocker among the Tigers’ running backs and a threat to score any time he could make the first tackler miss. He rushed for 669 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017 but was overshadowed by Etienne, who kept rising in 2018.
Feaster ended 2018 spring practice as Clemson's starter but suffered a knee injury (meniscus) over the summer. When he returned, Etienne was starting and Adam Choice was the top backup.
Feaster wound up rushing for 451 yards, behind Etienne, Choice and Lyn-J Dixon.
He will join a crowded backfield at USC but one that’s sparse on steady production. Dowdle, Turner and Denson have been around for years (as have walk-ons Caleb Kinlaw and Slade Carroll) but nobody has nailed down a No. 1 spot, mostly due to injury. Deshaun Fenwick and Lavonte Valentine redshirted last year while Kevin Harris is a true freshman.
Feaster is the second former Clemson player to join the Gamecocks in two years. Defensive lineman Josh Belk transferred before last season, was awarded immediate eligibility and played in six games, but quit the team in February.