CLEMSON — To be clear, Dabo Swinney doesn't feel double-crossed. The Clemson head football coach is neither bitter nor vengeful toward Tavien Feaster, the former Tigers running back who announced last week his transfer to South Carolina.
Feaster, Swinney said this past Friday, is set to graduate from Clemson this week, and has earned the right to transfer for his final year of eligibility.
"Doesn't mean I agree with it," Swinney said. "But again, that's his decision. We wish him well."
Swinney addressed Feaster's transfer at the top of his press conference Friday evening, which marked the beginning of fall camp. The Tigers' coach noted it would be the last time he would address Feaster's situation, though; he wants to focus on the players at Clemson.
But a veteran player transferring to the instate rival is big news, especially one with Feaster's resume. He leaves Clemson averaging 5.99 yards per carry, the second-best mark in program history. The leader? Junior Travis Etienne, the 2018 ACC Player of the Year, the 5-10, 215-pound speedster whose presence ensured Feaster would be relegated to a reserve role this season.
So Feaster opted to steer his football journey in a new direction. That he landed in Columbia seems to have not bred ill-will from his old team.
Offensive lineman John Simpson on July 17 at ACC Media Days was asked about the possibility of the Spartanburg native joining the Gamecocks.
"Me and Tavien, we're close, and he's been talking about it, he's like, 'Man, I'm trying to feed my family,' " Simpson said. "It is what it is. He came from a rough area. He's trying to make the money that he can to help his family out."
Sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence's rise to college football stardom coincided with Etienne's last season. Lawrence said he understands Feaster's decision.
"In any situation, everyone does what they think is best for them," Lawrence said. "It's not like he's sitting there, thinking, 'I'm going to do this to get back at Clemson,' or anything like that."
Swinney said he still cares for and respects Feaster, who leaves the Tigers having rushed for 1,330 yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, and having caught 23 passes for 183 yards and one touchdown over 41 career games.
The coach said he sat down with Feaster before Feaster announced his intention to transfer. Swinney is at peace with the decision, though that "doesn't mean I have to like it."
"If he felt like he needed a better opportunity than what maybe he had here playing-wise, he earned that opportunity," Swinney said.
Feasters joins a Gamecocks team with three senior running backs: Mon Denson, Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner. As a graduate transfer, he is eligible to play this season and is expected to carry a heavy workload.
Feaster and his family will have greater clarity on the success of the move by Nov. 30, when the Tigers play at South Carolina in the annual rivalry game. For now, the running back's public comments about the transfer have been limited to bible verse Jeremiah 29:11 NIV, which he wrote in the caption of an Instagram post of him sitting at his Gamecocks locker, fingers interlaced:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."