When Alex Kube recently stepped on the scale in DeKalb, the numbers surprised him.
The Cary-Grove graduate, who will be a senior this fall for Northern Illinois’ football team, was 234 pounds, his highest weight ... “ever,” Kube said.
Despite spending the past two seasons at strongside linebacker for NIU, the weight helped Kube come to the realization that he’s in the right spot in the Huskies’ defense.
“I’m more comfortable than I’ve ever been,” Kube said.
That was not always the case.
In 2007, he piled up 111 tackles as a 195-pound redshirt freshman safety. When new head coach Jerry Kill came aboard after that season, Kube was moved to linebacker.
“I didn’t totally buy into it,” Kube said. “I kept coming back to the fact that I was a safety. I was disappointed in the last two seasons.”
This summer, disappointment is far from Kube’s vocabulary. NIU is predicted to win the Mid-American Conference West Division by two preseason publications and he is one of 10 returning defensive starters.
“This is my third year in the system,” Kube said. “I finally put on the weight I needed to. Now, my confidence is just so huge. I expect big things. I don’t want anything less than a (MAC) championship. “
Kube’s expectations grew when the coaching staff said goodbye to the team for a three-week break.
Three days later, “35 guys were there working out, including myself,” he said. One week into the summer break, nearly the entire team had returned to campus to work out together.
“This is the hardest I’ve ever worked,” Kube said. “And this is the best my body has felt.”
Kube also has found a comfort level in being a mentor to younger players because of his experiences.
“I tell them how fragile and how precious the game is,” he said. “You need to have three goals when you become a college football player – graduate, become a better player and become a better person. I’m going to end up doing all three. I couldn’t be any happier.”
UIC’s Horizon stars: Crystal Lake South grads Kellie Schuh and Matt Zaluckyj won individual events last month at the Horizon League’s outdoor track and field championships for Illinois-Chicago.
Schuh, a sophomore, won the pole vault with a leap of 12 feet, 11⁄2 inches. She also placed fourth in the triple jump (38-51⁄2) and was part of UIC’s sixth-place 4x100-meter and 4x400 relay teams.
Zaluckyj, a sophomore, won the 800 run in 1:51.44 seconds as the event’s top seed. He also helped UIC’s 4x400 team place third.
In the 3,000, senior Nic Aubert, also a South grad, placed sixth in 9:37.65.
In April, UIC honored its top student-athletes at the annual Night of Champions banquet. Zaluckyj (men’s cross country) and fellow South grad Aimee Schuh (women’s track) were honored for having their teams’ highest grade-point average.
Aubert and Kellie Schuh were named to the athletic department’s Academic Honor Roll.
SBlt Barry Bottino writes a weekly column and a blog about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at BarryOnCampus@hotmail.com and check out his On Campus blog at www.McHenryCountySports.com/blogs/oncampus.