Nov 16, 2019; Iowa City, IA, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman (13) and teammates enter the field before the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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WR Bateman opts back in, hopes to play for Minnesota

Wide receiver Rashod Bateman, a potential first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is returning to classes at Minnesota and hopes to play this season for the Golden Gophers.

Coach P.J. Fleck announced Bateman’s return on Friday. He said Bateman received a waiver to be allowed to practice but will need another one before he can appear in a game.

Bateman announced on Aug. 4 that he was opting out of the season “in light of the uncertainty around health and safety in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic” and would prepare for the draft. That was a week before the Big Ten announced it was moving football to the spring — a move that was rescinded this week.

Fleck said Bateman is comfortable with precautions being taken at Minnesota to halt the spread of COVID-19, which include daily antigen testing. He added Minnesota’s compliance office is working with the NCAA and Big Ten “to come to a resolution” on the waiver issue, which he said was “a bit more complex” without adding details.

Bateman’s return, if approved, will be significant for the Golden Gophers, who finished 11-2 in a breakout season in 2019. He was a third-team Associated Press All-America selection and also was named the Big Ten’s top receiver.

In just two seasons with the Golden Gophers, Bateman had 111 receptions for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 704 yards set a Minnesota receiving record in his freshman season in 2018, and he also set the sophomore record last season with 1,219.

–Field Level Media

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