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    Jeff Budzien, Venric Mark Tabbed Semifinalists for Positional Honors

    Jeff Budzien is a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top place-kicker.

    Jeff Budzien is a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award, presented to the nation's top place-kicker.

    Nov. 9, 2012

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- A pair of Northwestern football players were selected this week as semifinalists for top national honors at their respective positions. Junior running back Venric Mark (Tomball, Texas/St. Pius X) is one of 10 semifinalists for the prestigious Doak Walker Award, while junior Jeff Budzien (Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) is among the 20 national candidates for the Lou Groza Award, presented annually to the top place-kicker in FBS.

    The winners of both awards are slated to be announced during the Home Depot ESPN College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 6.

    In his first year as Northwestern's starting running back, Mark needed only nine games to post the first 15th 1,000-yard rushing season in NU history and the first since 2006. The junior is second in the Big Ten and 10th in the country with 119.7 rushing yards per game, and leads the conference in all-purpose yards per game with 184.1. He has 14 total touchdowns this season (11 rushing) and is averaging a stellar 6.5 yards on his 166 rushing attempts.

    Mark joins Wisconsin's Montee Ball and Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell as the Big Ten's trio of representatives on the Doak Walker Award's list of semifinalists. Three finalists will be announced on Monday, Nov. 19, before the winner is announced Dec. 6.



    Budzien is 11-of-12 on field goal attempts this year -- with his lone miss coming on a 53-yard try -- and a perfect 34-of-34 on extra point tries, extending his school record for consecutive made PATs to 84. Three of his field goals have come from beyond 40 yards and earlier this year Budzien tied a Northwestern school record when he converted all five of his field goal tries against Boston College.

    The Big Ten also landed three place-kickers in the field of Lou Groza Award semifinalists, with Budzien joining Michigan's Brendan Gibbons and Iowa's Mike Meyer.

    2012 Doak Walker Award Semifinalists
 Montee Ball, Wisconsin 

    Kenjon Barner, Oregon

    Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State

    Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

    David Fluellen, Toledo

    Johnathan Franklin, UCLA

    Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada

    Venric Mark, Northwestern

    Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State

    Stepfan Taylor, Stanford

    Lou Groza Award Semifinalists
    Brett Baer, Louisiana
    Casey Barth, North Carolina
    Chris Boswell, Rice
    Jeff Budzien, Northwestern
    Anthony Cantele, Kansas State
    Chandler Cantanzaro, Clemson
    Brian Davis, Arkansas State
    Trey Farquhar, Idaho
    Brendan Gibbons, Michigan
    Dustin Hopkins, Florida State
    Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma
    Austin Lopez, San Jose State
    Ross Martin, Duke
    Mike Meyer, Iowa
    Jaden Oberkrom, TCU
    Cairo Santos, Tulane
    Steven Schott, Ball State
    Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
    Jeremy Shelley, Alabama
    Caleb Sturgis, Florida


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