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  When Rashod Bateman told his Gophers teammates he was coming back to campus in hopes of playing this season, they thought he was joking. "I didn't think it was a possibility," running back Mohamed Ibrahim said in a Tuesday video news conference. "… So just understanding that he can come back, that was a big boost to the whole team." Can, but not necessarily will, as Bateman's second go at a collegiate career is still foggy. Much like the Big Ten Conference as a whole, Bateman changed his mind. The reigning Big Ten Receiver of the Year opted out of the 2020 season on Aug. 4, citing health concerns for playing during the coronavirus pandemic. The conference later canceled all fall sports Aug. 11 but then reversed that decision last week, setting up a delayed fall season to start Oct. 24.

New safety measures, including daily testing, influenced Bateman to decide to play instead of focusing on the 2021 NFL draft, where he is a projected first-round pick. But his path back to college football isn't as simple as just returning to the team. Bateman is one of several players across the country in the NCAA's Student-Athlete Reinstatement process to regain his remaining two years of eligibility. When he signed with an agent and accepted benefits - including money for housing, transportation and training the past six weeks - that terminated his amateur status, unless the NCAA grants him a special waiver. "There's going to be a lot of other things we have to do moving forward for him to be cleared, and that's down the road a little bit," Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "But he's doing everything he can to handle today, and that's all we told him to focus on. Just focus on today, continue to get better. And a lot of this is out of your control. But again, we know the right measures are being taken, that's for sure." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

(DS#6 WR) Jr/2021 WR *Rashod BatemanMinnesota
News Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune



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