Minnesota's Rashod Bateman Opts out of Season, Will Focus on 2021 NFL Draft

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2020

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman (0) stands on the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Purdue, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. Minnesota won 34-31. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
Stacy Bengs/Associated Press

Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman announced Wednesday he is opting out of the remainder of the 2020 season after a COVID-19 outbreak at the program forced the cancellation of this weekend's game vs. Wisconsin. 

The cancellation means that Minnesota-Wisconsin will not be played for the first time in 113 years.

Bateman, a 20-year-old junior, has 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns in five games this season. He was a star in 2019, catching 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 scores, and was named the Big Ten wide receiver of the year. 

He'll now turn to draft preparations. On Mel Kiper Jr.'s Nov. 11 big board for the 2021 NFL draft, the ESPN draft pundit ranked Bateman No. 25. Kiper noted that the wideout "has long arms and the length to go and get the ball in traffic. He tracks the ball well on deep throws. The question about Bateman is his straight-line speed; his 40-yard dash time will be important."

Bateman enters a draft with a deep pool of talented wideouts, however, with Kiper ranking five players at the position—Alabama's DeVonta Smith (No. 5), LSU's Ja'Marr Chase (No. 6), Alabama's Jaylen Waddle (No. 11), LSU's Terrace Marshall Jr. (No. 21) and Purdue's Rondale Moore (No. 23)—above him.

Bateman had initially announced he would forgo the 2020 season entirely amid the coronavirus pandemic but opted back into the season in September. 

Per ESPN's Chris Low, Minnesota "had 20 players sit out because of a combination of injuries and COVID-19 issues for its 34-31 victory over Purdue on Friday" and has registered "nine student-athletes and six staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past five days."

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The school has paused all football activities for the time being.