And when they depart, leaving considerable uncertainty at tailback, the Wildcats will be prepared to fill the void.
With exceptional recruiting efforts – and a special emphasis on depth – NU has already established future depth at running back.
Just two seasons ago, no NU back reached the 500-yard mark. Kain Colter led the team with 654 rushing yards. But now, this position may inspire the most optimism, primarily because of the many candidates who can step up and succeed.
Stephen Buckley is among the MVPs of spring. His pass-catching ability and solid receiver instincts could make him another ideal change of pace in the 2013 offense.
You could easily speculate that Mark will see a decrease in number of carries for 2013. He suffered from several minor injuries, leaving room for Trumpy to carry the load. If Pat Fitzgerald and Mick McCall develop confidence in Buckley, it makes sense to work with various backs—even more so than last season.
Despite some recent spring struggles, Malin Jones appears to be one of the most naturally gifted athletes in the backfield. He joined NU as the first recruit of the 2012 class, and still figures to make significant impact in the coming years.
After playing every game in his freshman year (2011) and recording 97 carries, Treyvon Green has fallen down the depth chart. He rarely saw the field outside of garbage time last season, and looks like the fifth option at this point—though that might change.
Get very excited about Godwin Igwebuike. Though the talented athlete could choose to play defense, PW projects him as the future starter—and an excellent one at that. One of the best recruits in NU history, by our standards, the four-star 2013 commit from Pickerington North (Ohio) is likely to excel wherever he plays.
Even with Keith Watkins likely to play cornerback, there are other impressive talents in the class. Xavier Menifield ran for more than 6,000 yards in his high school career at Sierra Canyon (Calif.). He added a third star late in the recruiting process, and seems like your standard "Northwestern guy"—an under-recruited steal in the class of 2013.
Warren Long spoke to Jamie Lovegrove of PW in March, and said he hoped to eventually make the 1000-yard club. Also a California product, he rounds out the "stable" of running backs available to replace Mark and Trumpy in later years.
On the radar
This depth should only grow, with another group of 2014 RB prospects checking out Northwestern. Four-star recruit Justin Jackson of Glenbard North (Ill.) is receiving the majority of attention. But two intriguing targets visit campus this weekend.
The first is Auston Anderson of Plano West (Tex.), who holds offers from NU, Stanford, UCLA and others. Stanford in particular prides itself on backs with size, following the Toby Gerhart model. The 5-9 prospect reports a 4.4 time in the 40 and a 3.5 GPA.
Finally, Solomon Vault of Gaithersburg HS (Md.) has entered the picture. Vault–listed at 5'10, 190–could potentially work out of the slot. His recruitment picked up in recent weeks, and holds offers from NU, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Commits from one or two of these prospects would shore up the NU running back situation in the near future. When Mark and Trumpy leave, they're not taking any chances.