Mononucleosis is an infectious, viral disease commonly associated with young boys and girls locking lips and swapping spit.
While the "kissing disease" is sometimes given a humorous aura, mono is a very serious illness.
San Jose State wide receiver Kevin Jurovich was stricken with the sickness two games into the 2008 football season. The virus embedded in his body kept the 6-foot-0, 190-pound rising star on the sidelines the remainder of the year.
"It wasn't just a fatigue factor, it was a situation where his spleen was enlarged," Jurovich's father told Inside Sparta. "So since it was enlarged the doctors wouldn't give him clearance to play."
Common symptoms of mono are extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat, weight loss and inflammation of internal organs. Because Jurovich's viral infection targeted and enlarged his spleen in what the scientific world calls splenomegaly, the danger was that the spleen which is protected by the ribcage could rupture upon hard contact, such as a hit from another player.
The path to recovery for Jurovich was an arduous one. Perhaps not as much from the required recuperation period of at least two months, but more so the agony of watching his teammates and the game he loves to play from a distance in street clothes.
"I think the most important thing is that it's nice get out there with my teammates again," remarked Jurovich when asked about his transition back into a helmet and pads. "Seeing all the work these guys have been putting in during the off season is really inspiring for me, and makes me want to work harder."
Without the services of Jurovich last season, the Spartans struggled mightily with offensive production.
Prior to being consumed by the disease, the four-year Spartan out of Valley Christian High posted 15 receptions for 183 yards (91.5 ypg) and a touchdown. To give an indication of the ineffectiveness of the air attack in '08, Jurovich ranked fourth on the team in receiving yards and seventh in catches at season's end with just a pair of games under his belt.
"He had something like 85 balls a couple years ago," exclaimed wide receivers coach Ken Margerum. "He's a very gifted, natural receiver who understands zone reads and knows how to run away from man-to-man."
Coach Margerum refers to Jurovich's breakout year in 2007 when he switched from safety to wideout and compiled 85 catches for 1,183 yards and nine TDs. His reception total established a San Jose State single season record while his receiving yardage ranked ninth in the nation that year.
Likening him to NFL players, Jurovich is not going to blow opponents away with blazing speed like the Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith. He's not going to muscle corners and safeties around for position like Anquan Boldin of the Arizona Cardinals.
Jurovich is more of a Wes Welker (New England Patriots) prototype. He understands the angles of the game, is deceptively quick and possesses hands that are as sticky as pine tar. As Margerum pointed out, Jurovich is a heady player who can recognize coverages and catch the ball in traffic.
"He's done a really nice job," commented head coach Dick Tomey on Jurovich's performance in spring practice thus far. "He'll be one of the best players in the league."
Jurovich hopes he can fill the big cleats left with the departure of David Richmond, who was an All-WAC Second Team selection last season. He also has a pristine legacy of Spartan receivers to follow including James Jones of the Green Bay Packers and Rashied Davis and John Broussard, who play for the Chicago Bears.
Tomey admitted that he doesn't think Jurovich is quite back at 100-percent just yet. "He was so sick," Tomey affirmed. "He was as sick as I've ever seen anybody and he's not fully recovered yet."
But that hasn't kept Jurovich from going full speed ahead since returning. Something his father claims is due to his son's drive to compete and the love of the game.
"He's been playing football since he was nine years old so this is his thirteenth year," he said. "He just loves the game so when he's healthy, he's going to want to be on the field."
It will take Jurovich some time to make a complete return to playing condition, but he seems pleased with his progress so far.
"You've just got to shrug your shoulders and know that you've got a lot of work ahead of you," Jurovich stated. "You wake up early, with a good attitude. I've been doing it about two months now, and I feel good. I feel like I could play a game if I had to tomorrow."
Jurovich, a senior, will be entering his fifth season as a member of the Spartan football team. Despite a position switch mid-career and battling through mononucleosis he's enjoyed every minute of his time at San Jose State.
"I've had a roller coaster career. All I can say is that I'm so happy to be here today, and I'm so happy to be out here practicing. This is my last year, and I don't want to have any regrets. I just want to give it my best shot."
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Scott Cooley is a Contributing Analyst to Inside Sparta. You may contact Scott with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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