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Northwestern RB Venric Mark expected to sit out Saturday, medical redshirt a possiblity

Northwestern running back Venric Mark was absent from the team’s depth chart released on Monday in advance of the Wildcats’ game at Nebraska Saturday, indicating that the senior is not expected to play for the third straight week.

Mark injured his ankle in the first quarter of Northwestern’s loss at Wisconsin on Oct. 12 and did not return in that game.

He also dealt with a lower-body injury throughout training camp that made him a limited participant in Northwestern’s season opener at Cal on Aug. 31. He then sat out the Wildcats’ remaining three non-conference games.

Mark has only played one full game, the Wildcats’ 40-30 loss to Ohio State at home on Oct. 5. He has only appeared in three games. As a result, Mark could be eligible for a medical redshirt if he doesn’t return this season.

NCAA bylaws state that a medical hardship waiver is granted “when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport.”

Mark currently meets both criteria and, since he hasn’t used a redshirt yet, would have that option should the injury keep him sidelined the remainder of the season. But Mark has NFL aspirations and after an All-American junior season may choose to enter the draft.

“I’ve talked to him about all the different variables and we’ll just take it day by day,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said.