Though the question of why Venric Mark transferred from Northwestern has yet to be fully answered, the question of how the shocking announcement made his teammates feel was answered pretty well Thursday.
"Obviously it was tough," quarterback Trevor Siemian said. "He was not only a good player but also a good friend and a good person. Just praying for him and hope he's doing all right."
The explanation given in the team's press release Wednesday evening was that Mark was leaving the program to be closer to his family in Texas. And that was echoed by teammates, who seemed as surprised as everyone else that the Wildcats' star running back — so close to returning to the field after a season lost almost completely to injury in 2013 — wouldn't be putting on a Northwestern uniform this season.
"He addressed us yesterday after practice," safety Ibraheim Campbell said. "Guys were pretty caught off guard. I don't think many people knew about it, if anyone knew about it. It's definitely a tough loss. It was a family member, a guy that guys knew, loved. And kind of sad to see him go."
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"We didn't really know until after practice. So not much we could do or say," Siemian said. "Just hoping the best for him and hoping he figures things out back home."
Head coach Pat Fitzgerald didn't mention much in the way of details, saying that Mark's decision was best for him and his family, calling it "an unfortunate part of college football." The head coach said the two had a discussion about it, and though remaining a member of the Northwestern football team was an option, Mark made the decision to leave the program.
"You're saddened by it," Fitzgerald said. "It's one of those situations where you lift him up, and as I said in my statement we're always going to be here for him. And at the same time it's what's right for him and for his family, and we'll move forward from that."
[MORE BIG TEN: Northwestern running back Venric Mark to transfer]
Fitzgerald added that he and Northwestern would be willing to offer any help with Mark finding a new place to play football. Campbell believes Mark will definitely land someplace else.
"I believe he will. He has too much talent to just sit at home and not use it," Campbell said. "I think he's a smart guy and he'll figure out something and figure out somewhere to play to get his talents out there."
Teammates seemed just as surprised as fans and observers have been over the past 24 hours or so. Though it doesn't seem moving on will be too much of an issue for a team that's been battling adversity for a long time. Right now, it still seems to be sinking in, the departure of such a big part of the NU football family.