The dominos continue to fall for the 2020 college football season as more players opt out of playing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest big name to do so is Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who announced his decision to skip the fall and prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft through a video on Minnesota's Twitter account.
Bateman follows the likes of Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, who previously announced he would be skipping the season to shift his focus to the draft. Farley later penned a column in Peter King's "Football Morning in America" expressing concerns over Virginia Tech's handling of the coronavirus pandemic with the football season on the horizon.
While Bateman did cite COVID-19 as his reason for leaving, he offered no direct concerns with Minnesota. Instead, he shared gratitude for his time in Minneapolis as he moves on to the next chapter in his life.
"Unfortunately, in light of the around the health and safety of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to set my sights my wishes aside for the wellness of my family, community and beyond," Bateman said.
You can watch the full video of his announcement below:
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck also took to Twitter to offer his support for Bateman:
To say that Bateman is a big loss for the Gophers would be an understatement. He was pegged to be one of the top returning players -- and perhaps the best returning wide receiver -- in the Big Ten had he suited up. In two seasons, he caught 111 passes for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was already eighth all-time on Minnesota's list of career receiving yards and tied for fifth in touchdowns. He is expected to be a first-round draft pick next spring.