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Football: Venric Mark granted medical hardship waiver, will return to Northwestern for 2014 season

Venric Mark carries the ball in a game against Ohio State in October. The senior running back received a medical hardship waiver and will return for the 2014 season, Northwestern announced Tuesday.

Daily file photo by Susan Du

Venric Mark carries the ball in a game against Ohio State in October. The senior running back received a medical hardship waiver and will return for the 2014 season, Northwestern announced Tuesday.

Alex Putterman, Assistant Sports Editor

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Venric Mark will spend one more season in purple, Northwestern announced Tuesday.

The senior running back will return to the Wildcats for the 2014 campaign, having been granted a hardship waiver by the Big Ten, thereby receiving a fifth year of eligibility.

Mark rushed for 1,366 yards in 2012 and was named first team All-American as a punt returner, helping lead the team to a Gator Bowl victory, NU’s first in 63 years.

He appeared sparingly in 2013, playing in only three games as he battled multiple leg injuries. The tailback left the Cats’ season-opening against California and didn’t return for over a month, performing well against Ohio State on Oct. 5 before breaking his ankle the following week, early in a blowout loss at Wisconsin. The Cats finished the season 5-7, as Mark carried a total of only 31 times.

NU’s offense stagnated without Mark. The Cats scored just 6 points in losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State and 10 in an overtime defeat at Iowa.

In November, coach Pat Fitzgerald praised Mark’s continued support for his teammates despite repeated health setbacks.

“He worked diligently to have a great year, and things have happened to him that have been out of his control,” Fitzgerald said. “What’s been in his control has been his attitude, and he’s been amazing. He’s been terrific on game day. He’s been terrific every day at practice that he’s out there encouraging guys and coaching them up.”

Because Mark played in only a quarter of his team’s games, none after the midpoint of the season, he met the NCAA’s criteria for a hardship waiver. The waiver was approved by the Big Ten.

He enters 2014 fourth in NU history in all-purpose yards, 1,000 behind program leader Damien Anderson.

Email: alexanderputterman2016@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @AlexPutt02

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About the Writer
Alex Putterman, Web Editor

Alex is a Medill senior studying journalism. He has written for The Daily’s sports desk since his first quarter at NU. His past positions at The Daily include sports editor and gameday editor. The West Hartford, Connecticut native has previously worked for SI.com and the Hartford Courant and written for AOL.com and Baseball Prospectus. You can reach Alex via Twitter or email.