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Northwestern looking to move on without Venric Mark

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Updated: August 14, 2014 8:26PM

KENOSHA, Wis. — Northwestern players knew they were going to be without Venric Mark for the first two games of the season because of a suspension for a violation of team rules.

And then came word of Mark’s decision to transfer for personal reasons.

“It was definitely a tough loss,” safety Ibraheim Campbell said after practice on Thursday. “It was a family member that our guys knew [and] love. It’s kind of sad to see him go.”

The Wildcats went about the business of moving on a day after the running back/punt returner decided to do the same.

“Like the team and I talked about [Wednesday] night, teams win championships, not individuals,” coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “It’s tough to see him go, but at the same time, I feel very confident in this team and our leadership — and most importantly the guys who play his position, We knew for a couple of weeks that we weren’t going to see him, so we’d kind of already dealt with that internally. The team is very focused on being the best team they can be and moving on.”

Mark said the decision to transfer was best for him and his family.

Mark earned All-American honors as a punt returner in 2012. He missed almost all of last season with an ankle injury.

“We were operating like he was not going to play the first two games so there might be a different perception internally … We’ve been working in guys all through camp — Ibraheim, Nick [VanHoose], Tony Jones and Mike McHugh,” Fitzgerald said. “We’ll make decisions as we get closer to the opening game.”

Freshmen Solomon Vault and Justin Jackson have practiced well as part of a deep backfield that already includes Treyvon Green.

Mark wasn’t the only loss. The school also announced receiver Christian Jones is out for the year with a knee injury.

“It hurts to lose Christian, but it’s another guy’s opportunity now” Fitzgerald said. “We’ve got pretty good depth there.”

Fitzgerald said the team responded the “right way” to the tough day.

“The approach of this group since January, they have been through some things together now and it’s on our seniors and Leadership Council to step up and lead,” he said. “I’ve seen no dip at all.”


Twitter: @lamondpope

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