There was a lot of change and learning for Traver Jung this past spring.
The Mississippi State junior was adjusting to an entirely new defensive staff and scheme and also a new position. Jung spent the 2015 season at sam linebacker but switched to viper in the spring which is a new hybrid position combining an outside linebacker and a defensive end created by new defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon.
“Coach (Sirmon) has put me in a good position right now which is the viper,” Jung said. “I like that a lot. I got a lot of good looks in the spring. After I got a little playing time at that position, things have gotten easier because of my length. I’m able to help in the running game too. I believe I’m better off at the viper position than when I was playing sam in (Manny) Diaz‘s defense.”
Jung has embraced all the changes the defense has endured in the offseason. He is especially excited to work with a coach like Sirmon who brings along six years of playing experience in the NFL.
“He’s been there and knows how it is,” Jung said. “He tries to show us the way and keeps everything simple. The 3-4 that we’re running now is not that difficult and is easier than what Diaz ran. We will still have that 4-3 defense in on certain things but I think it’s a good look for us in what we’re doing.”
Jung quickly found success in his new role as well. In the Bulldogs’ first two spring scrimmages, the 6-foot-3, 229-pounder made seven tackles including a sack and an interception.
He feels his success in the spring was partly fueled by the decision to redshirt him during his first year on campus.
“Redshirting helped me a lot,” Jung said. “I’m more mentally focused. True enough, I wanted to jump out there right away and felt like I probably could’ve played. But after spending this one year just to learn helped me stay focused and pushed me more and more.”
The Greenville native arrived at MSU last summer from the Mississippi junior college ranks. He starred at Holmes for two years where he was a two-time First Team All-State selection making 104 tackles, 14 for loss, three sacks, two interceptions, six pass deflections, two blocked kicks and forced a fumble.
Jung received interest from Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State out of high school but believes going to junior college first was the most beneficial to him.
“Going the juco route was the right thing for me because I needed to develop my body and get a little bigger,” Jung said.
Although Jung has been on a three year journey to get to finally debut in the Southeastern Conference, he is glad he gets to do so this fall at MSU.
“It’s been fun here,” Jung said. “I’ve learned a lot being around these coaches and they’ve shown me a lot. It’s a different vibe from juco and I’m just happy to be here.”