Northwestern star Venric Mark transferring

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USATODAY
Venric Mark

Northwestern had been prepared to miss its top offensive threat for the season's first two games. The Wildcats now must replace him entirely.

Running back and kick returner Venric Mark, a 2012 All-Big Ten selection, will transfer for personal persons, the school announced Wednesday in a release.

Mark, a fifth-year senior from Tomball, Texas, who had been suspended for violation of team rules, said he wanted to play closer to home.

"Northwestern has been an indescribable experience for me," Mark said in the release. "It has been my home for four years and has molded me into the man I am. I'm one class shy of the Northwestern degree I've worked so hard for, and I will graduate. I'm devastated to leave my second home, but life is full of challenges and I've been presented with another one. Right now this is what is best for me and my family."

Senior Treyvon Green should take over the starting running back role from Mark. Green ran for 736 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Mark missed all but three games last season because of injury, but was granted a medical hardship waiver for a fifth season. In 2012, he rushed for 1,366 yards and 12 touchdowns and was a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award.

"Today is a difficult day for our football family and, most importantly, for Venric," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said in the release. "We love him, and there is no doubt that we're going to miss him as both a person and player. But this is unquestionably what is best for Venric and those closest to him."

Northwestern also announced that Christian Jones, last season's leading receiver, will miss the season with a knee injury.