Northwestern announced Tuesday that running back Venric Mark’s application for a medical hardship waiver has been approved by the Big Ten Conference, rendering Mark eligible to return for a fifth season with the Wildcats in 2014.
An All-American punt returner and 1,000-yard rusher in 2012, Mark saw limited action in three games last fall while battling multiple injuries. He played for the final time in Northwestern’s Oct. 12 game at Wisconsin, leaving the game in the first quarter with a fractured ankle that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
Mark, who played as a true freshman upon arriving in Evanston in 2010, rushed for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior en route to second-team All-Big Ten honors. He ranks fourth all-time at Northwestern with 4,271 all-purpose yards, exactly 1,000 behind NU career leader Damien Anderson.
Getting Mark back healthy and at full speed will be a huge boon to the Northwestern offense, which clearly missed him last season while losing seven of its last eight games.