With the benefit of a full year in Starkville under his belt, Traver Jung is ready to hear his name called on the Davis Wade Stadium public address system. While the ultra competitive side of Jung was eager to play last fall, the intellectual side now appreciates a year to get bigger, faster and stronger.
"I feel like it was a big step forward for me," Jung said of the redshirt year. "I was able to gain a little weight and learn a lot more than I thought I knew. I learned how to be better in coverage and I learned what the safeties have to do behind me."
Having the benefit of the spring practices, Jung was essentially on the same learning curve as the rest of the Bulldog defensive unit who all got a crash course in the 3-4 alignment. Jung believes that from a philosophical and schematic standpoint that the new brand of Bulldog defense plays to his strong suit.
"Coach (Peter) Sirmon came in with a new defensive scheme," Jung said. "I feel like I really fit in the scheme. I feel like it's good for me. I play some at the 'Star' position and the 'Viper' position. I think the learning experience I had last year helped me this year. I really like the new defense."
Terms like "Star" and "Viper" are new to the Bulldog defensive terminology. Jung reports that despite the colorful nomenclature, the two positions have some similarities and some differences.
"They are the same in a lot of ways. You have a lot of the same responsibilities," Jung explained. "At Viper, you have to be more aggressive on the end. At the Star position, you have to do a lot more covering. I can do both, so I feel like I can play either position. I probably like Star the most, but I like playing them both. I just want to be able to get on the field, either one is fine to me."
Jung is far from the only Bulldog who has found himself lining up some where different before the snap. To hear Jung tell it, the ability to play multiple positions builds knowledge and knowledge is power.
"A lot of our guys are moving around and working at different positions," Jung said. "Coach Sirmon knows how to put people in the right positions and he's trying a lot of different things. We have had Gerri (Green) and Dre Ward playing some at Will (weakside linebacker) and Mike (middle linebacker). K.C (Kelan Chairs) is playing some at both Will and Mike. Gerri has played some at Viper and Dre has played some at Star.
"There is a lot of moving around. Coach Sirmon is new, so he is trying to figure out what everybody can do and what we can accomplish together."
The Bulldogs have two fall scrimmages under their belts. Last week, Coach Dan Mullen dubbed this week a "clean-up" week with the depth chart beginning to take shape. Jung reports that the Bulldogs still have some fine tuning to do before they take the field against South Alabama.
"We just need to go out there and show that we know what we're doing," Jung said of the final days of fall camp. "It's time now to show what we know as a team and as a defense. It's time to get ready for the season now. The learning part of it should be over. We need to know what we're doing now."
As a star linebacker at Weston High School in Greenville, Jung dreamed of running out of the tunnel and taking part in a glorious SEC Saturday. With the season opener just around the corner. Jung has already begun to consider the culmination of his dedication and hard work that lead him to Mississippi State.
"That is going to mean a lot," Jung said of his major college debut. "I haven't played in over a year, almost two. I just want to go out there and do what I can and do my best to help the team. When I get on that field, I want to put on a show. I am ready."
Mississippi State will begin the season at home on September 3rd with South Alabama entering as the lid lifting opponent. The Bulldogs are 2-0 All-Time against the Jaguars and enter the game as considerable favorites. Kickoff is set for 11 A.M. tickets remain available, but a capacity crowd is expected.