EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Louisville Sports Commission announced on Thursday that Northwestern junior Venric Mark (Tomball, Texas/St. Pius X) is one of 49 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players named to the Paul Hornung Award Preseason Watch List. The Paul Hornung Award is handed out annually to the most versatile player in college football.
Mark has excelled as an electrifying kick and punt returner in his first two years in Evanston, entering the 2012 season just 35 yards shy of becoming NU's all-time leader in kickoff return yards and 11 returns away from matching the school mark of 72. He finished with six returns of 40 or more yards last season, tied for the most in FBS football.
The Houston-area native also has made an impact on the offensive side of the ball, beginning his career as a wide receiver before shifting to running back during his sophomore campaign, averaging 7.3 yards per carry on 23 attempts last year. His versatility was on full display in the season-ending Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, when he totaled 141 kickoff return yards, 50 punt return yards -- including a 47-yarder -- and his first career rushing touchdown against Texas A&M.
Mark even made an appearance on defense in 2011, serving as an occasional spy of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson when NU hosted the Wolverines last October.
The Paul Hornung Award is designed to promote college football and help preserve the legacy of one of Kentucky's best-known and accomplished athletes who has always called Louisville home. Hornung, the 1956 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame and NFL MVP for the Green Bay Packers, set a single season NFL scoring record that stood 46 years. Hornung is a member of the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and Vince Lombardi once called Hornung, "The most versatile man ever to play the game."
Northwestern opens preseason training camp on Monday, Aug. 6, and kicks off the season at Syracuse on Sept. 1.