So who is Venric Mark?
Venric is a shifty little tailback/punt returner that burst on the scene last year after a couple electrifying games. Specifically, in his first career start, he took Syracuse out behind the woodshed, setting a school record with 134 punt return yards, including an 82-yard punt return (don’t watch the rest of that Marknado video, it will scar you for life) for a touchdown that was NU’s first punt return TD since forever (2005). No big deal, he just amassed a mere 281 all-purpose yards, rushing for 82 yards tacking on a a 21-yard touchdown pass.
More electricity? He did this to Penn State, this to Iowa and then treated Michigan like the red-headed step child it most certainly is, gashing them for 260 all-purpose yards (104 rushing, 156 return yards) and a TD. He led the Big Ten in all-purpose yardage with 166.6 yards per game. That was also enough to rank 12th in the country in that category.
Great, so what’s a guy like him playing with a bunch of nerds at Northwestern? Venric was considered a 2-3 star by most recruiting services, and he attracted a little attention from a few bigger schools and a lot of mid-range schools. He was initially recruited to play a slot receiver and as a punt returner. He decided to go Northwestern over, among other teams, Iowa State, Vanderbilt and Arizona. He put on a little weight and has become the featured back in Northwestern’s spread attack.
So while Mark is listed at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds he certainly doesn’t play that small. He isn’t afraid to mix it up with the big boys in the middle and he’ll get to the corner just as easily. Throw in a soft pair of hands and his return skills and you’ve got an extremely dangerous player. Break away speed and moves to spare. Oh, and he once played linebacker in 2011 against Michigan to mirror Denard Robinson.
Northwestern is poised for another year, some calling it their break-out year. Between Mark and the soon-to-be-discussed two-headed monster at QB, Northwestern has the potential to make a lot of noise this year in the B1G, starting with their conference home opener against the Buckeyes on October 5th.