The Minnesota Gophers have lost their top receiver before the start of the 2020 college football season. Junior Rashod Bateman has announced, in light of COVID-19, he will opt-out of the season and focus on the next steps by declaring for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Over the last two seasons, Bateman has torn up defenses with a surprise to opponents, opposite of Tyler Johnson. He finished with over 1,200 yards and 11 TD in 2019 alone. Heading into his junior season, he was one of the top pre-season WRs for everyone watching college football.
In just two years, Bateman made a huge impact on the field. He made highlight-reel catches as well as broke through for long touchdowns. Against South Dakota State in last season’s opener, Bateman made one of the best catches ever, realing in a BOMB by Tanner Morgan, with one outstretched arm and the tips of his fingers. In the game against Penn State, he helped ignite the Gophers with a 66-yarder for the first score of the game… Rashod Bateman is just ELITE.
Rashod Bateman is an advanced route-runner with strong hands in open and contested-catch situations.— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) August 4, 2020
He’s not a rare athlete, but he still creates separation quickly at and away from the LOS — very smart football player and likely top-50 pick.pic.twitter.com/THGtN6kUPu
Fleck and Bateman
Fleck and Bateman had a really strong relationship on and off the field. It was easy for fans to see the respect they had for each other. In his exit video, Bateman expressed his love for P.J. Fleck and dubbed him the Gopher coach as the reason he chose Minnesota. Fleck has brought a different feel to the Gophers and an atmosphere players want to be around.
Though it’s tough to come to terms with Bateman never putting on the maroon and gold again, we know Fleck will keep top talent rolling through Minnesota as long as he’s here. The future is bright with this team and they aren’t going anywhere.
This is an unexpected news as everyone was prepared to have the dominant Bateman back for one more season. Though the season is still up in the air, there’s a chance it doesn’t even happen and this decision won’t entirely matter.
The Future for Bateman is very bright. Going into this year, he was already expected to be a drafted following the season. Though he won’t have any more collegiate games to play in, he is still one of the most talented WRs in this upcoming 2021 draft class.
I’m really happy for Bateman and will continue to cheer for him while he chases his dreams. He was such an electric factory to watch last season and I will miss him in the maroon and gold. I wish the best for him and his family.
AJ Condon | Minnesota Sports Fan