Minnesota linebacker James Gordon Iv (13) catches the ball against South Dakota State safety Joshua Manchigiah (3) during an NCAA college football game Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Minnesota Golden Gophers receiver and potential first-round pick Rashod Bateman is opting out of the upcoming college football season and will begin preparing for the NFL draft, he announced Tuesday.

ESPN’s Todd McShay has Bateman as the No. 19 player among his way-too-early top 32 prospects.

Bateman becomes the second pro prospect to opt out of the coming season as Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley announced he would be leaving school early last week.

In a video Bateman released on his Twitter page, he said it was one of the “hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life” to not play alongside his teammates and coaches this fall.

“In light of the uncertainty around health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to set my wishes aside for the wellness of my family, community and beyond,” he said. “Because of this, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season and I will be taking the next steps in my journey by declaring for the 2021 NFL draft.”

Bateman caught 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and was named an AP third-team All-American.

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck issued a statement supporting Bateman’s decision. In the statement, Fleck said that Bateman informed the team Tuesday morning that he would be opting out.

“Rashad played a pivotal role in helping mold the University of Minnesota into an elite Big Ten program,” Fleck said. “He was a joy to coach and has developed into an NFL caliber of player. We could not be more proud of Rashod’s historic and All-American career at Minnesota.

“My job as a college football coach is to teach, educate and help our players live out their dreams. We will certainly miss him. Our program will always support a teammate who makes a decision that he feels is best for him and his family.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here