Gophers' star WR Rashod Bateman opts out of remainder of 2020 season

Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman (0) 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))

Rashod Bateman has officially played his last football game at the University of Minnesota.

The Gophers’ star wide receiver announced on social media on Wednesday he’s opting out of the remainder of the season and focusing on preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft. Minnesota was scheduled to play at rival Wisconsin on Saturday, but the game was canceled Tuesday after nine players and six Gophers’ staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

Minnesota was also awaiting results of other presumptive positive tests.

“After further dialogue with Coach Fleck and my family, we decided that after this most recent COVID-19 outbreak and the cancellation of this weekend’s game, that it made the most sense to begin to focus on the next stage of my career,” Bateman said Wednesday.

In five games this year, Bateman had 36 catches for 472 yards and two touchdowns. He was the 2019 Big Ten Receiver of the Year, and earned First Team All-Big Ten honors.

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck took to social media on Wednesday to give his full support to Bateman.

"I fully support him as he pursues his dream and I want to thank him for everything he gave to our program, university and state," Fleck said.

Bateman originally opted out of the college football season back in the summer, after his own battle with COVID-19. To complicate matters with the virus, Bateman suffers from asthma.

He decided to come back to the program and received a waiver for eligibly this season after the Big Ten announced its plans to have a fall season, which included strict COVID-19 protocols and daily rapid testing.

Bateman is a likely first round pick in the next NFL Draft, and could be picked in the top 10.