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NIU's Jefferson hoping for just one more opportunity

After Northern Illinois’ 31-10 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl, senior Nabal Jefferson’s plans were up in the air.

The former Huskies defensive tackle will graduate from NIU in May with a degree in accountancy and was planning on attending graduate school in DeKalb this fall.

Not too long after the Huskies’ 2012 season ended, Jefferson put in a call to his old college teammate, Alex Kube, who trains football players at Elite 7 Inc. in Barrington. Jefferson wanted to try to get into an NFL camp, but wasn’t able to hook on with an agent. However, he was able to pick the former NIU linebacker’s brain.

“I was just wondering what he thought I should do, as far as if I should train, how I should train, where I should train,” Jefferson said. “I knew that he had his own business that he’s running now, he suggested that to me and it just kind of took off from there. It was almost the perfect thing that could happen to me.”

This afternoon, Jefferson will take part in NIU’s pro day, which will be at the Yordon Center and DeKalb Recreation Center. Jefferson hopes to impress scouts, pick up representation and hook on with a team as a free agent after April’s NFL draft.

Jefferson will take part in workouts with a number of former teammates from NIU’s 2012 senior class, such as defensive ends Sean Progar and Alan Baxter, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and receiver Martel Moore.

While working out Jefferson, Kube, who signed with the Arena Football League’s Chicago Rush on Monday, has had him work on basic combine events – the 40-yard dash, shuttle run and broad jump – as well as other various football drills.

Kube said Jefferson’s progress since the two started – about a week or two after the Orange Bowl – has been “night and day.” Kube also had the chance to play on the same defense as Jefferson for two years, so he knew what the Chicago native could do.

Jefferson was listed at 6 feet, 287 pounds on NIU’s website, but said he’s up to 295, and also is a lot quicker and more flexible.

Kube has taken part in two NIU pro days. He worked out in 2011 after his senior season and, after not getting picked up by an NFL team, worked out in 2012 as well. He parlayed the second pro day into a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings, although he never was invited to training camp. He hopes his opportunity with the Rush can get him into the NFL.

Kube has given Jefferson loads of advice, but said it all is up to him moving forward.

“I just tried to overall prepare him physically and mentally, exactly how it’s going to happen and what it’s going to be,” Kube said. “After doing it for two years I think I was able to give him every bit of advice. Really, come Friday, it’s on him. He’s done all the work he’s supposed to. He’s ate right, he’s supplemented right. Everything you can ask, treatment, everything.”

Jefferson remembers former NIU coach Jerry Kill giving him an opportunity coming out of Marist High School, and hopes to get another one in the pros.

“It’s the same thing as coming here. I was fortunate to have someone that gave me a chance to play. Came here and had a great four years,” Jefferson said. “I’m just hoping to have the same thing, have someone give me a chance, and give it all that I have.”

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