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Northwestern RB Venric Mark To Miss Spring Ball

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Northwestern running back Venric Mark will miss spring practice following surgery on his broken ankle. The Wildcats hope Mark heals in time to perform this fall. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images.
Northwestern running back Venric Mark will miss spring practice following surgery on his broken ankle. The Wildcats hope Mark heals in time to perform this fall. Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images.

Northwestern running back Venric Mark will miss all of spring practice as he continues to recover from a broken ankle, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

The NCAA granted Mark a medical hardship waiver and a fifth year after he played in just one full game in 2013. (A hamstring injury also limited Mark.)

When healthy, Mark is Northwestern's best playmaker. He ran for 1,366 yards in 2012 and also returned two punts for touchdowns. After a 10-win year, some expected the Wildcats to contend for a division title last season, but Northwestern didn't even make a bowl game, and Mark's absence was one of several reasons.

According to the Tribune, Mark had surgery on the ankle. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, asked if the ankle issue could remain a problem into the fall, said "I hope not."

Overall, 11 different Northwestern players will miss spring practice, all due to surgeries. The defensive line is missing four players and a fifth is limited, forcing Fitzgerald to alter practice to space out the periods of full or heavy contact.