Northwestern football thought it caught a break when running back Venric Mark was granted an extra year of eligibility, however it appears that the star running back and return man will have to wait to get on the field.
On Friday night, the program announced that Mark will be suspended for the first two games of the season for a violation of team policies.
It means Mark will miss the season opening matchup with Cal at Ryan Field and will also miss an intriguing matchup with Northern Illinois the next weekend, also at home.
While specifics on what happened weren’t forthcoming, Mark did release a statement through the athletic department.
“I made a mistake and am prepared to deal with the consequences of that,” said Mark. “There’s no one that holds me to a higher standard than the one I hold myself to, so nobody is more disappointed than I am. First and foremost, I feel like I let my teammates down, and that feels the worst. I’m grateful to have another season to compete with this team. My focus moving forward is on working as hard as I can in camp and supporting my teammates in practice and on gamedays so that we can achieve our goals this season.”
Mark played in just three games last season and ran for just 97 yards (3.1 yards per attempt) in the process. He broke out in 2012, rushing for 1,366 yards and tied for the team lead with 12 touchdowns on the ground.
Having him back with Treyvon Green was seen as a boon to the program as they transition away from the Kain Colter era and get back to a more traditional spread look on the offensive side of the ball.
According to early reports, Mark was looking like the 2012 version of himself through out the summer and early fall camp. Not having him in for a game like Cal, where it could be an offensive shootout is a massive blow.
In the game between the two last season, Mark was slowed early by an ankle injury and carried the ball 11 times for just 29 yards while trying to shake off the injury. That didn’t work well, as he missed the next three games and played against both Ohio State and Wisconsin before re-injuring his ankle in the loss to the Badgers at Camp Randall.
At least Mark will be able to practice with his teammates, but with two interesting opponents to open the season, having Mark on the field would’ve been ideal.