Mississippi State

Block Out The Noise

October 12, 2017

Block Out The Noise

Seniors Dez Harris and Traver Jung provide leadership and experience in MSU’s linebacking core.

The following feature story can be found in the Oct. 14 Mississippi State Football Game Program, which can be purchased for $5 in and around Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday.

The following feature story can be found in the Oct. 14 Mississippi State Football Game Program, which can be purchased for $5 in and around Davis Wade Stadium on Saturday.

For many, football is a battle fought on the field. But for senior linebackers Dez Harris and Traver Jung, their war records include battles fought in the training room.
 
A tremendous athlete who played on both sides of the ball, Harris had high hopes for his final season at McAdory High School in Bessemer, Ala. As a junior, the young quarterback completed a near-perfect 10-of-12 passes for 259 yards in a 54-19 victory against John Carroll High School, the game he recalls as his favorite football memory. Rated a three-star prospect, he was poised for a breakout year.
 
All that ended before the first ball was snapped. A tear in his right ACL obtained during a preseason jamboree contest sidelined Harris for his entire senior season, but he wasn’t done with football.
 
Harris enrolled at Mississippi State in the fall of 2013 and redshirted his initial year on campus. The next season as a redshirt freshman, he started out strong at linebacker, recording four tackles in his Bulldog debut against Southern Miss. He continued to record tackles in five-straight games until a familiar shadow crept back on to the field.
 
Halfway through the 2014 campaign, Harris suffered a second ACL tear, but this time in his left knee. Another season ended too soon, but he still wasn’t done with football.
 
He bounced back from his second season-ending injury and was ready to get on the field his sophomore season. But alas, after seeing action in the first seven games of 2015, Harris tore his left ACL again.
 
Three ACL tears. Three seasons cut short. Three rebounds.
 
“It’s been a fight and a battle,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t really say one was harder than the others. All of them were the same process. Each was tough in its own way.”
 
As a junior, Harris competed in his first full season since 2011. He tallied 37 tackles throughout 13 games and recorded a then-career-high five tackles in three different SEC contests. Most notably, at LSU, he forced two Leonard Fournette fumbles in the fourth quarter of a tight game.
 
Harris’ tenacity both on and off the field earned him the honor of serving as a team captain his final year in maroon. So far this season he shattered his previous career-high and recorded 12 tackles against Georgia and also set new career-highs in tackles for loss (1.5, twice) and sacks (1.0, against Louisiana Tech).
 
Being on the field for his senior season means a little extra.
 
“It means the world, being able to bounce back from the injuries,” Harris said. “I’m just blessed. Through all the adversity I’ve been through, I know now whatever comes my way, I can get through it. I’m going to be able to handle it.”
 
Jung and Harris share more than a position on the field. Like Harris, Jung has also battled through three knee injuries.
 
Although his football career didn’t begin until high school, Jung had a standout senior season at Greenville Weston High School in Greenville, Miss., recording 85 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and one interception.
 
But in the second-to-last game that season, Jung tore his lateral meniscus and underwent surgery to repair the tear.
 
The next two years he continued to develop at Holmes Community College, where he earned Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges First-Team All-State honors both his freshman and sophomore years. 
 
Near the end of his time in Goodman, Jung experienced his most defining moment of his football career: signing with Mississippi State.
 
“I had another opportunity to live my dream out and live a dream my grandmother never got to see,” said Jung, who wears the number 3 in his grandmother’s memory.
 
He moved to Starkville in January 2015 and also redshirted his initial year with the program. However, two days before the spring game of his redshirt year, Jung suffered another tear to his lateral meniscus in the same knee.
 
Rebounded and ready to suit up for MSU, Jung was ready for his first season on the field in Starkville. He played in all 13 games last season and grew stronger as the fall progressed.
 
He’ll never forget his first game as a starter against Texas A&M, a matchup played on his 22nd birthday. To help the Bulldogs knock off the No. 4 team in the country, Jung tallied a career-high 2.0 tackles for loss.
 
Jung stayed healthy throughout the offseason and the start of his final year until he suffered a third tear in his meniscus after the third week of the season. Refusing to let the injury hold him back, he refers back to his grandmother.
 
“It’s like my grandma always told me, ‘Just pray it up.’ And that’s what I always do,” Jung said. “There’s a moment that you go through where you have to push yourself and continue. You’ve just got to keep pushing.”
 
The Bulldog family is tough, and players like Dez Harris and Traver Jung contribute to that toughness by demonstrating through their own battles that no matter what, nothing should hold you back from living a dream.

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