Jung In Linebacker Battle

Mississippi State fans saw linebackers Bernardick McKinney and Matthew Wells leave Starkville and enter the NFL draft. With those spots on the two deep now up for grabs, some talented newcomers as well as some maturing returning players are competing for the available playing time. Junior college transfer Traver Jung is on campus and competing for reps at strong side linebacker.

"Right now we are all battling for the same spot," Jung said. "There are three of us competing and it's a real battle. It's hard to say who is going to start right now. We're all really pushing each other in this competition.

"Right now, Zach Jackson, J.T. Gray and me are pushing each other. DeAndre Ward is getting some reps with us too, but he's mainly playing Will (weakside linebacker). I am not going to lie. It's a real tough competition right now."

As the newcomer to the group, Jung is doing his best to make things interesting with Jackson and Gray who have both played in the Southeastern Conference.

"I am pushing myself as hard as I can," Jung said. "I know all of the plays. Every day you just have to rep it out, rep it out and rep it out. That's all we can do right now to really get better. We're all working hard."

Jung had the benefit of working through the two summer school sessions with the rest of the football Dogs. The Greenville, Mississippi native reports that his time with the Bulldog strength and conditioning staff helped prepare him for the demands of fall camp.

"The summer workouts really prepared me for all of this," Jung said. "A lot of the demands are the same as JuCo and being a physical player is just what I have always been. I have always been a hard worker, so there hasn't been that much of a change with all of that. I knew I was going to have to work hard when I got here."

Coach Manny Diaz is responsible for preparing the linebackers for their part in the Bulldog's defensive scheme. Jung reports that he believes he is growing under the supervision of the veteran coach.

"Coach Diaz has been great so far," Jung said. "He tells you what's right. This last meeting we had, he told us all where we stand. He was telling us how it's all coming around. He's really helped me. He helps me read my keys. He's been a good coach to me so far.

"I just try to look and observe and learn as much as I can. I know a little more about what to expect, since I played in JuCo. It's all about working now."

While some junior college players need some time to get up to speed on the more sophisticated defensive schemes of major college football, Jung believes that he has been a quick study when it comes to the new Mississippi State defense.

"It's been pretty easy for the most part," Jung said. "My coach I had at Holmes really prepared me well. I know all of the plays that we're running now, it's just about getting reps and repping everything down now. It's a little different scheme, but a lot of the things we're doing now I did at Holmes."

The battle for a starting position will continue as the Bulldogs prepare for Southern Miss on September 5th. Jung reports that he is looking forward to his role in a very talented group of linebackers.

"I am doing my best to show up and show out," Jung explained. "We have some really good linebackers here. I am not coming in like a freshman coming in and I am just going out there every single day doing what I am supposed to do."

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