The race for Northwestern’s 2013 preseason watch list king had a major shakeup Thursday. Venric Mark pulled even with junior center Brandon Vitabile with three watch lists to lead all Wildcats. Mark’s latest honor was not unexpected – the Doak Walker award included him in the sizable group of players believed to be in the running for the honor of “nation’s premier running back.” Mark has also been named to the Maxwell and Paul Hornung preseason lists.
You didn’t need an award’s preseason list to inform the public of the obvious fact that Mark, following an impressive breakout season, is without question one of a host of players nationwide with the potential to blossom into the as-voted-upon “best running back in the country”. Mark’s contributions on kick returns may ultimately distract from what he contributes in the running game, and the selection committee may elect to choose a player more singularly devoted to the offensive side of the ball. But of all the watch lists Northwestern players have made this preseason – and there are a lot – this one feels reasonably attainable by comparison. Mark is an established name, and with another big season, he could make a run for the award.
There is a lot of competition, and Mark will probably need to eclipse last season’s efforts to even be in consideration. Even so, I wouldn’t rule him out completely.