Minnesota Golden Gophers WR Rashod Bateman, considered among the best of a strong group of college wide receiver prospects, has opted out of the 2020 college football season due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and announced his intention to file for early eligibility for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Bateman made his announcement Tuesday via Twitter video:
"Unfortunately, in light of the uncertainty around health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to set my wishes (to play) aside for the wellness of my family, community and beyond," Bateman said in the video. "Because of this, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season. I will be taking the next steps in my journey by declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft."
Bateman (6-foot-2, 210 pounds, per school measurements) was set to be a junior this fall after a stellar sophomore season in 2019 during which he set Minnesota receiving records for yards (1,219) and touchdowns (11). Golden Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck tweeted a statement in support of Bateman on Tuesday:
Bateman is the second high-profile college player to make this decision in the last week, joining Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley. Agents and NFL scouts alike have been expecting top prospects to opt out of the college campaign in light of growing uncertainty about the pandemic's impact on both player safety and the viability of the season. All five major college conferences have adjusted their schedule models. Bateman's conference, the Big Ten, was the first major conference to cancel all non-conference games. The Big 12 Conference is now delaying play until mid-to-late September, while the SEC last week postponed the start of its schedule until Sept. 26.