MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota star wide receiver Rashod Bateman decided Wednesday to end his season early out of concern over COVID-19, the day after the Gophers canceled their game against Wisconsin due to a rise in cases within the program.
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Bateman, a widely projected first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft who was the Big Ten Receiver of the Year award winner in 2019, made his announcement on Twitter. Bateman had COVID-19 this summer and initially opted out of his junior season in August, shortly before the Big Ten shelved fall sports. When the conference enhanced COVID-19 protocols and relaunched the schedule, Bateman rejoined the Gophers and had his eligibility restored by the NCAA.
Bateman had 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns in 13 games last season, helping Minnesota go 11-2 and finish 10th in the final Associated Press poll. Bateman had 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns in five games for the Gophers (2-3) this year. Chris Autman-Bell is next on the team with 14 receptions for 315 yards and one score.
The Gophers called off their game against the Badgers after nine players and six staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in a five-day span. Minnesota announced Wednesday that three additional players and seven more staff members have tested positive.