Boye Mafe leaving Gophers after Guaranteed Rate Bowl to pursue NFL

Minnesota DL Boye Mafe (34) during a college football game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Illinois Fighting Illini on November 7, 2020 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill  ((Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images))

The University of Minnesota football team ends its 2021 season against West Virginia Tuesday night in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, and it will be the last time for Boye Mafe in a Gophers’ uniform.

Mafe posted a goodbye message to Minnesota on social media Monday night. He’ll head to prepare for the NFL Draft after the bowl game. Mafe is one of a handful of players who had one more year of eligibility remaining after this season, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Golden Valley native and former Hopkins standout earned All-Big Ten honors this season. In 12 games, he had 30 tackles, led the Gophers with six sacks, had nine tackles for a loss and forced a fumble.

"It has meant the world to me to be able to play in front of you in my home state. I came to the University of Minnesota as a young, immature boy, and now I’m leaving as a wiser man. Going into my last game as a Gopher, I’m so happy I can have one last go around with our fans and my teammates. As I leave Minnesota, it means so much to me to leave this program with the Axe being where it belongs: Home," Mafe said.

The news comes with no surprise as Mafe has accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, as have Daniel Faalele and Esezi Otomewo. Mafe is expected to be an early round pick in the NFL Draft.