Created: Thursday, April 26, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

Persistence pays off for Kube

Former Northern Illinois University linebacker Alex Kube helps supervise during the DeKalb Bengals Football Camp on July 11, 2011, in DeKalb. (Rob Winner file photo –

Alex Kube said that during the past year, he’s worked harder than he has in his entire life.

Last April, Kube, who had to make the switch from linebacker to safety because of his size (6-feet), wasn’t one of the players selected in the seven rounds of the NFL draft. When the NFL lockout ended in July, none of the league’s 32 teams gave the former Northern Illinois standout the opportunity to hook on as a free agent.

Even though he had to wait a year longer than he wanted to, Kube finally will have a chance to prove himself to an NFL organization. Tuesday, he was invited to participate in the Minnesota Vikings’ minicamp from May 3 to 6. If the Vikings like what they see, Kube will be invited to training camp, which will offer him a shot at making the team’s regular-season roster.

“I can honestly say that for a year I did everything that I feel you’re supposed to do to get to that level,” Kube told the Daily Chronicle. “Eat right. Live right. Nobody’s going to be perfect, but trying to be.”

For Kube, doing everything right meant getting in shape to be an NFL safety. In 2007, Kube spent his redshirt freshman year with the Huskies at safety before playing linebacker his final three seasons under coach Jerry Kill.

After learning he wouldn’t play in the NFL in 2011, Kube worked on agility drills, improving the footwork necessary to play defensive back.

He also dropped the weight that he needed to.

While his top playing weight was 238 pounds in 2010, when he led the Huskies with 81 tackles, Kube’s agent, David Lehtman, said Kube currently weighs in at 208 pounds.

Kube participated in pro day events at NIU and Northwestern, and also had a tryout with the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes, where he was invited to the team’s training camp.

Kube ran a 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds at Northwestern’s pro day in March. That mark would have ranked the best among safeties at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

“It’s unbelievable, the strides he’s made in the past year, in the past several weeks even,” Lehtman said. “He’s really taken himself up to the next level physically and mentally.”

After he was passed over in 2011, Kube admits he thought about giving up at one point.

“At first when it happened last year, I wasn’t going to go it again, to be completely honest with you,” he said. “Athletically, it hurt a lot. It was one of the biggest slaps in the face I’ve ever had.

“But it also woke me up and helped me realize, if I just take this year and do everything right, if it happens it’s going to happen. If it doesn’t than I can wake up 30 years from now, 20 years from now, whatever it is, and say I gave it my all.”

Kube had lost some weight before last year’s draft, tipping the scale at 220 pounds. He also ran a respectable 4.51 40-yard dash at NIU’s 2011 pro day, the fastest mark there.

Despite that, Kube didn’t do enough to convince scouts and NFL personnel that he could handle the transition to safety.

He said that the fact he hadn’t played safety in three years hurt his chances. The lockout-shortened training camp only made matters worse, as he wouldn’t have as much time to handle the transition.

“You’re going to as an owner, he has [a short time] to get ready for a season, you’re going to ask him to pick a kid who played safety one year, played linebacker the rest of his [career], or he’s going to pick up somebody who’s played safety for four years,” Kube said. “I understand the business, I understand what I had to fight against.”

Though he was a forgotten man, Kube didn’t want to point fingers.

“Obviously, in my mind, I didn’t get picked up last year so in my mind I hadn’t done enough,” Kube said. “And then, I didn’t blame anybody else. I didn’t blame a single person. I just blamed it all on myself. There was a reason why I didn’t get picked up.

“I felt that if I worked harder and I kept up with it and I didn’t stop believing, it was going to happen.”

Now, Kube believes he’s demonstrated he can play safety in the NFL.

“I’ve shown that I’m athletic enough to play the position,” Kube said. “I think last year after the pro day, I didn’t do well enough for the scouts to listen to my story. I think this year, doing so well, I think it made them say ‘this kid’s athletic enough to play the position.’ “

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