Pat Fitzgerald and his Northwestern Wildcats suffered through a tumultuous 2013 football season. An extremely tough start to Big Ten play put the Wildcats behind the eight-ball, and they were never able to fully recover in 2013. Injuries also plagued the team all season, and no injured player impacted the team more than star running back Venric Mark.
The young speedster from Texas has done a little bit of everything for the Wildcats throughout his career, becoming one of the most exciting players in the Big Ten when the ball is in his hands. Mark might be most dangerous as a kick returner and punt returner. He currently owns all of the kickoff return records at Northwestern. He was also an All-American returner in 2012.
His speed is what gave him success as a kick return specialist who was always a threat to take a kick the distance. However, it is difficult to blaze down the field with a bum leg. In 2013, Mark suffered numerous injuries, with the most severe being a broken left ankle.
With all of the accolades he has gathered after his 2012 season, an NFL career seemed like a certainty. Unfortunately, the injuries interrupted that dream and may have placed concerns on his durability. It raised questions of whether his size would allow him to hold up in the NFL.
Mark is now seeking a medical redshirt exemption so that he can prove his doubters wrong in the 2014 football season. This is the perfect scenario of a player who deserves another year of eligibility for a multitude of reasons. First of all, Mark is a hardworking young man who has been a key contributor to his team both on and off the field. The injuries were out of his control and most importantly, they may have hindered his ability to make a living in the NFL.
Another year of eligibility will allow him the opportunity to prove himself as an NFL talent.