It might still be a little difficult for Northwestern fans to process, but Venric Mark has picked where he will play college football this season.
Multiple reports from people who spoke with the former Wildcats running back Saturday morning revealed Mark will be playing at Division-II West Texas A&M this season. As was initially stated in the announcement of his transfer from Northwestern, he left the school to be closer to his family, and his new school is located in Canyon, Texas.
Mark looked into playing at some FBS schools, mostly in the Big 12. It was reported earlier this week he might try to walk on at Texas Tech. And though Saturday's news included the fact that schools were willing to apply for an NCAA waiver that would allow him to play immediately, Mark believed it wasn't worth the risk. He will be able to play right away at West Texas A&M.
Venric Mark: “This is an hour and half from my Mom. It’s the best fit.” Said many FBS schools were willing to apply for waiver.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 23, 2014
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Venric Mark: “But I couldn’t gamble w my last year with no guarantees.”— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 23, 2014
Venric Mark said he also explored Baylor, Texas State, Houston, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, SMU and Kansas.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) August 23, 2014
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Mark could've applied for a waiver to play Division-I football this season, though his chances at receiving one from the NCAA seemed low considering Northwestern's successful application for another year of eligibility for Mark after last season, when he missed most of the year due to injury.
As for his exit from Northwestern, Mark weighed in on his suspension and his reason for leaving.
Venric said he agreed w/2-gm suspension; it was NOT for a failed drug test. Was "an internal thing ... Fitz does not want me to disclose."— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) August 23, 2014
V said he left team b/c his grandmother is ill and mother "is going through some stuff." Lands at D2 West Texas A&M. Can play immediately.— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) August 23, 2014
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One final note from Greenstein's story for the Chicago Tribune: Mark said he was interested in finding the best way to reach the NFL with this decision.
“It was such an unknown,” he told Greenstein. “Do I forfeit a year and not play? Or do I find a school that puts people in the league? More people are in the NFL from West Texas A&M than Northwestern.”
That's an odd statement considering it's not true. There are nine active Northwestern alums in the NFL, and 170 former Wildcats have played in the NFL all-time. West Texas A&M has six players currently in the NFL and has sent 49 to the league all-time. Those numbers from Pro-Football-Reference.com.