UPDATE: Let's answer this question:
Fitzgerald: "Venric is coming back next year."— Nick Medline (@NickMedline) November 12, 2013
Venric Mark's 2013 is done, as the Northwestern running back will sit the final three games of 2013 as he recovers from a broken ankle.
After earning All-American honors last year as a punt returner, Mark has only played in three games his senior season. 11 carries for 29 yards against Cal when he was out for large stretches, 17 carries for 60 yards against Ohio State, the only game where he was healthy for four quarters, and three carries for eight yards against Wisconsin. After busting out for 1,366 yards last year, this was not the season he wanted to end his career.
The season started out with Big Ten championship hopes for the team and all-conference hopes for Mark. The team is 0-5 in conference play, and Mark has barely been able to suit up. With bad luck and bad breaks for the team, hoping Mark can be better next year is the best thing for NU.
It's a matter of three games of healthy Venric vs. 12. Of course, those three games now are hyper-important, as NU needs to win two of them to go bowling, and not going bowling would be rather depressing. But it's a disservice to both Northwestern and Venric Mark to have his senior year be a few disappointing half-outings. He's a better player than the shell he's been this year, and NU's a better team than 0-5. (Not much, but better.)
If you need a reason why, just look at NU's basketball star, Drew Crawford. He struggled through injuries at the beginning of last year and wasn't giving NU his best. Now, the Wildcats have him back for a full season.
Hopefully the same would go for Venric, who, need I remind you, is a speedy, untackleable little bugger. He deserved better than this year.
Pat Fitzgerald said on last week's teleconference he expected Mark to get a fifth year of eligibility if he applied for it. The fact that he has a broken ankle likely secures that.
Of course, NU has other injury news:
RB Stephen Buckley should be ready to return in nine months after having knee surgery.— Inside Northwestern (@insidenu) November 11, 2013
That's a bummer, but not surprising from the way he went down. That leaves NU's running back depth chart with just three players, Treyvon Green, Mike Trumpy, and Warren Long, who was out for a few games before this.