Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 2/25/14
Spring football begins Wednesday for Northwestern, but fifth-year tailback Venric Mark is among 11 players not participating after undergoing surgery. Mark, who was granted a medical redshirt after being limited to one full game last season, underwent surgery on his left ankle. Asked whether Mark’s ankle issue could linger into fall camp, NU coach Pat Fitzgerald replied, “I hope not.” Also out are defensive linemen Max Chapman (shoulder), Deonte Gibson (shoulder), Sean McEvilly (foot) and Ifeadi Odenigbo (shoulder). Tyler Lancaster (hamstring) will be limited. With fewer than a half-dozen healthy defensive linemen, Fitzgerald will alter practice by spacing out the periods with heavy contact. “We’ll get in the reps,” he said, “but we’ll tweak the structure of practice so there won’t be so many in a row.” The others out for the spring are receiver Cermak Bland, safety Terrance Brown, running back Stephen Buckley, cornerback Daniel Jones and offensive linemen Ian Park and Brad North. Jones and Park started last season, and Buckley had a 99-yard rushing game at Iowa. Last year NU offensive linemen Jack Konopka, Alex Pietrzak, Matt Frazier and Paul Jorgensen missed spring ball, and those post-surgical limitations hampered their ability to bulk up in the spring. “Hopefully those (defensive linemen) learned the lesson that the sense of urgency, once you are cleared, has to go up,” Fitzgerald said.
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