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Star Gophers receiver opts out of season, to declare for NFL Draft


MINNESOTA (FOX47) -- A star wide receiver for the Minnesota Gophers is leaving school early because of the pandemic.

In a video posted on Twitter Tuesday morning, Rashod Bateman called it the hardest decision of his life.

"Minnesota, you have my heart forever," Bateman said. "Moving from a small town to the big city, I was very nervous. You have all accepted me and embraced me with open arms and have helped me find myself."

He cited the potential health risks of playing during the pandemic.

“In light of the uncertainty around health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to set my wishes aside for the wellness of my family, community and beyond," Bateman said.

Bateman will focus on training for next year's NFL Draft, according to coach P.J. Fleck. He is considered to be a possible first-round pick.

Last season as a sophomore, Bateman was named the Big Ten's top wide receiver. He was also a third-team All-American after tallying 1,219 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

Byron Tollefson

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