MINNEAPOLIS — The 2020 college football season won’t include Rashod Bateman. The former Tift County Blue Devil and current University of Minnesota wide receiver announced Tuesday morning that he was opting out of the season.
Bateman gave his decision in a video posted a video to his Twitter account.
“I am now making the hardest decision that I have ever had to make in my life,” he said. Bateman gave thanks to God, his family, coaches, teammates and academic advisors. “Unfortunately, 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. Because of this, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season.”
Bateman said he is declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft. He is projected to be among the top receivers in the nation and potentially a first round selection.
He thanked head coach P.J. Fleck for his guidance. “Coach, you are the reason that I came to Minnesota and I would do anything to be able to play football for you again,” said Bateman.
Fleck issued his own statement Tuesday regarding Bateman’s decision to opt out of the season:
“This morning, Rashod informed the team that he and his family made the decision to forgo his remaining eligibility and focus on training for the 2021 NFL Draft. Rashod played a pivotal role in helping mold the University of Minnesota into an elite Big Ten program. 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. I love Rashod and will always be there for him.”
Bateman said he is grateful to the Gophers fanbase. He said he was nervous moving from Tifton to the Twin Cities, but had been embraced. “Minnesota, you have my heart forever,” he said.
In two seasons at Minnesota, Bateman had 1,923 receiving yards on 111 catches, including 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore. He was named Walter Camp Preseason All-American in June after being named third team Associated Press All-American in 2019, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and the Big 10’s Receiver of the Year.