One Less Day Til Football Season, No. 5, Venric Mark

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IT'S MONDAY OF FOOTBALL WEEK.
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So, yeah, let's go.

No. 5, Venric Mark, junior, running back

Who he be: Venric is the smallest player on Northwestern's football team - he's listed at 5-foot-8, in the same way that I am listed as 6-foot-6 - but also the fastest. Listed as an "athlete" out of St. Pius X in Houston, - Pius X is a great name for a Saint, PIUS X, THE X-MAN - Venric had offers to Vandy, Arizona and Arizona State, Colorado and Colorado State, Houston, Rice, and some Sun Belters. He burst onto the scene as a freshman, returning punts and kicks, bringing a kickoff to the house against Wisconsin - DAMMIT, VENRIC, NOW THEY HAVE THE BALL AGAIN - and a 58-yard punt return against Illinois - DAMMIT, VENRIC, NOW THEY'RE ABOUT TO HAVE THE BALL AGAIN. He started out as a wide receiver, which was sort of a dumb charade: he's 5-foot-8, and even while playing "wide receiver" as a freshman, had eight rushes compared to five receptions. About halfway through last year, he was kinda sorta moved to running back, although there were lots of discrepancies between what Venric, Pat Fitzgerald, and the official football roster said Venric did at any given point. He also had an awesome week-long stint as a linebacker while NU prepared to face off against Denard Robinson, which was pretty genuinely adorbs because he's so small. His punt return game stayed strong and he became a part of the run game, with 15 carries for 104 yards.

Watch Venric Mark discuss horses, Dougieing, and Mary Poppins: I can't really make it sound any better than that.

Looking forward: Venric is apparently in line to be listed as NU's starting running back when the depth chart is released later today. I'm not sure how much that means: I expect him to do work on options, but it's obvious that Northwestern is going to split carries many ways. Meanwhile, his work as a returner is what's really special: Venric's speedy as hell, and his ability to accelerate really quickly in any given direction makes him a superb punt returner, and one who is difficult to track down. I expect him to end up all-conference as punt returner, if not both kickoff and punt returner, and break some school records while at it.

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