Venric Mark: All-American at punt-returner

You see? America. - Joe Robbins

Northwestern RB Venric Mark has been named an all-American at punt returner by the Sporting News and CBS Sports, with more sure to come.

Northwestern has an opportunity to get their first All-American since 2005 - technically, I mean, they already do - and their first consensus all-American since 2000 in Venric Mark, who will receive a bunch of honors at punt returner

Mark has been named a Sporting News all-American as well as a CBS Sports all-American already, and there's more coming.

Quite frankly, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be: he murders the national average for returns despite being one short of qualifying - he's at 20.7 yards, the national leader is Andy Erickson of Texas State - and is one below the national leader with two touchdowns - Missouri's Marcus Murphy had three, but he had nearly twice as many returns at 27. Murphy could contend for the award on some ballots, but I think Mark will get the benefit of the doubt because he's made the biggest impact with the least opportunities and plays for a much better team than any of the competition. IHe also will probably get a bump from voters for having a major role in the team's offense, although that doesn't really fit the criteria. t's tough to argue he's not among the top three punt returners in the country, and you could definitely make the case for him being No. 1.

Northwestern's last all-American was Zach Streif in 2005, although even then he was only named by the FWAA. Mark could be last consensus all-American since Damien Anderson in 2000. Note this doesn't have anything to do with academic all-Americans, of which Northwestern has gotten two this year and has like a billion most of the time. This makes 39 in the history of the program, but only ten have come since 1970.

I didn't really know how the All-American thing worked - you know, since nobody on Northwestern has been remotely close to getting a spot. Although a bunch of organizations make lists where players can be named All-Americans, all of which are kinda combined into College Football All-America team. Of these, the NCAA makes a Consensus All-American team from amongst the AP, AFCA, FWAA, Sporting News, and WCFF, some of which are acronyms I understand.

Anyway, Mark deserves the recognition. Despite the amazing year he's had at tailback, nobody's going to consider him for a running back award, even making second team in the Big Ten behind Montee Ball and Le'Veon Bell. I hope he gets at least two returns against Mississippi State, which would put him above the cutoff of 1.2 per game would make him the national leader in return average, likely even if he didn't gain a yard on either.

So congrats to Mach V, the tiniest of all-Americans. None of us could've expected his performance at running back coming into the year - I saw him as a change-of-pace for Mike Trumpy, which is ha-ha funny - but he's been a revelation, both as a speedster out of the backfield and on special teams.

Venric Mark, all-American. Sounds good, don't it?

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