Going into spring practice, the http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/niu-m-footbl-body.html" target="_blank">NIU football team depth chart had only one starting linebacker penciled in: http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/kube_alex00.html" target="_blank">Alex Kube.
It didn't take long, however, for sophomores http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/butler_devon00.html" target="_blank">Devon Butler and http://www.niuhuskies.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/clark_tyrone00.html" target="_blank">Tyrone Clark to grab the two remaining starting positions.
"[Tyrone and I] didn't want to let our teammates down, so we knew we had to step up," Butler said. "Especially me being the man in the middle having to tell other players what to do."
As the senior and a four year starter, Kube, a native of Cary, Ill., shared what he did wrong and right in the beginning of his career with Butler and Clark.
"My biggest thing was this summer to show them the things on the football field and off the field on what to do and not to do so we could win football games," Kube said.
Butler is very grateful of Kube's guidance that has been given to himself and Clark.
"Alex is the leader of the linebackers," Butler said. "He makes sure we're well prepared for the games...he groups us together before we play to make sure there are no grey areas."
Once again, Kube has been a tackling machine and set a new career-high with 63 total takedowns this season. However, the Cary Grove High School graduate won't get credit in the stat book for taking his fellow position players under his wing.
While Kube helped his fellow linebackers with wisdom on and off the field, it came down to getting in-game experience for Butler and Clark.
"It's kind of hard to make a lot of plays when you're hesitant out there and trying to figure things out," said NIU linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz. "And as you keep going and rep, the game slows down and you get into a zone and you make all those plays."
The tandem of Butler and Clark has gotten plenty of in-game experience, emerging as perpetual components of the Huskies' defense.
Butler has become a force in the middle, becoming one of the leaders on the NIU defense with 61 total tackles. The Pembroke Pines, Fla. native has recorded two and half sacks while returning his lone interception 26 yards for a touchdown.
Clark leads the Huskies with four interceptions while ranking fourth in total tackles. The St. Louis, MO. native swiped two of those picks during the Huskies' 33-7 victory over Central Michigan which earned MAC West Defensive Player of the week honors.
While this is Kube's final season at NIU, he knows the linebacker position will still be in good hands.
"They're going to be unbelievable before it's all said and done here," Kube said. "They just get better every single week."