Northwestern announced on Wednesday that star running back Venric Mark will transfer from the program. The former All-American punt returner and top Big Ten running back missed most of last season due to injury. He had applied for a waiver to play this season and was granted that, but was suspended for the first two games of the year due to a "violation of team policy." Here is his statement from NU:
"Northwestern has been an indescribable experience for me," said Mark. "It has been my home for four years, and has molded me into the man I am. I'm one class shy of the Northwestern degree I've worked so hard for, and I will graduate. I'm devastated to leave my second home, but life is full of challenges and I've been presented with another one. Right now this is what is best for me and my family."
And from coach Pat Fitzgerald:
"Today is a difficult day for our football family and, most importantly, for Venric," said Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. "We love him, and there is no doubt that we're going to miss him as both a person and player. But this is unquestionably what is best for Venric and those closest to him."
Mark was expected to be NU's star at running back this year, so this will no doubt be a major loss. He was electric with the ball when he could get around the edge and has speed that no returning NU running back has. This puts the workload on a deep, but capable group of running backs.
Treyvon Green will likely be the starter against Cal, and Stephen Buckley and Warren Long will back him up. Buckley showed impressive potential last year until suffering a major knee injury against Nebraska. He has yet to practice this fall but should be back for week one. Long is an unknown, though the coaches like his potential. This also provides room for talented freshmen Justin Jackson and Solomon Vault, who have performed well in practice, to gain more playing time.
According to NU, this is new since Venric met the media yesterday, when he vowed to move on from his suspension and seemed excited for the season to get going. He is a senior this year.