The Louisville Sports Commission announced that Northwestern junior Venric Mark is one of 49 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players named to the Paul Hornung Award Preseason Watch List, handed out annually to the most versatile player in college football.
Mark excelled as a kick and punt returner in his first two years in Evanston, entering this year just 35 yards shy of becoming NU's all-time leader in kickoff return yards and 11 returns from matching the school mark of 72. He finished with six returns of 40 or more yards last season, tied for the most in FBS football.
The Houston-area native also has made an impact on the offensive side of the ball, beginning his career as a wide receiver before shifting to running back during his sophomore campaign, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on 23 attempts last year. His versatility was on full display in the season-ending Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, when he totaled 141 kickoff return yards, 50 punt return yards -- including a 47-yarder -- and his first career rushing touchdown against Texas A&M.
He's also played linebacker acting as a spy on Denard Robinson when the Cats hosted the Wolverines.
Pat Fitzgerald on Venric Mark's role on the team...
"On offense, his role is more clearly defined. We have him in the backfield. We put him out at receiver to give him space and to start his career. As a high school running back, he was very effective at that. Going towards that last half of his career, we looked at where he stood and what our needs were and that's why we made the decision at the end of last year and put him at running back.
He has really run with that and embraced it.
Moving into his kicking game role, he's one of the best in the conference, if not in the country so he will continue to have that role. What I've liked the most about V[enric Mark] this fall in camp is his attitude. He's been tremendous; he's like a kid in a candy store out there. He's having fun and really trying to help the young guys."
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