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Injured Venric Mark plans to return to Northwestern

Northwestern senior running back Venric Mark will put his NFL aspirations on hold for one more season.

Mark, who fractured his left ankle Oct. 12 at Wisconsin, intends to return to the Wildcats for a fifth year and will apply for a medical hardship waiver.

Both Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald and Mark were very careful to show respect to the application process and would not speak as if they were certain Mark would be granted a fifth year of eligibility.

However, Mark easily fits the standards for being granted a medical redshirt.

NCAA bylaws state that a medical hardship waiver is granted “when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport.”

Mark was a limited participant in the team’s season opener at Cal on Aug. 31 then sat out the rest Northwestern’s non-conference schedule. He played in the entirety of the Wildcats’ Big Ten opener against Ohio State on Oct. 5 before injuring his ankle the following week and has not seen action since then.

He has been very vocal about his intentions to pursue an NFL career, which gave reason to speculate Mark would attempt a comeback this season.

“That’s a dream of mine,” Mark said. “I’m not going to downplay that. That’s what I’ve been dreaming about since I was little. That’s what I play the game for, honestly. If it’s meant to be, I’m a firm believer that it will happen.

“I talked to Coach Fitz about it [the injury] last week and what people have to understand is it’s not really our [players’] decision. I can’t perform medically. So after talking to him last week we kind of weighed pros and cons and we had to come up with this decision.”

Mark said that he injured his ankle on a goal-line carry in the first quarter against Wisconsin. He attempted to return on the following drive, thinking he just had a sprained ankle. But after running a route, he realized he could not continue.


Twitter: @SethGruen

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