Gophers top receiver Bateman opts out, will focus on 2021 NFL draft

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who was the Big Ten’s receiver of the year in 2019, has opted to skip the 2020 season and instead prepare for the 2021 NFL draft.

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck posted the news on social media Tuesday morning.

Bateman had 60 catches for 1,219 yards in 2019, the second-highest receiving yards in a season in Minnesota history and most by a sophomore. His 11 receiving touchdowns tied for the most in program history.

More Gophers coverage

In addition to being the named the conference’s top recevier, he was first-team All-Big Ten, third-team AP All-American and a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver.

Big things were expected from Bateman in 2020, especially with Tyler Johnson now in the NFL.

However, with the Big Ten season up in the air — a conference-only schedule is expected to be announced Tuesday, but even then there is skeptism if a full seaosn can be played — and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Bateman has chosen to look, and plan, ahead.

With Bateman and Johnson both departed, Minnesota’s leading returning receiver is now junior Chris Autman-Bell, who had 28 catches for 371 yards and five touchdowns in 2019. No other wide receiver on Minnesota’s roster caught a TD pass last season.