Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman latest NFL prospect to opt out of college season

Bateman: 'Unfortunately, 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'

College football has lost another top prospect.

Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman has followed Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley in opting out of the season due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The two potential 2021 first-round picks echoed one another in their decisions.

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“Unfortunately, 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 in a video message he released on social media. “Because of this, I have decided to opt out of the 2020 college football season and I will be taking the next steps in my journey by declaring for the 2021 NFL draft.”

It seems unlikely they will be the last. A group of Pac-12 players are threatening not to play if their demands for safety precautions, racial injustice issues and name and likeness compensation aren’t met. In a column for NBC, Farley wrote on Monday that he expects others to also opt out. For him, early on in workouts he grew concerned about his own safety and those close to him.

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“Guys were going home, going to Myrtle Beach, coming back to campus, and we weren’t getting tested,” Farley wrote. “We’re all together, working out, close to each other, and you have no real idea who might have it, if anybody might have it. One day I looked around, and we were like 100-deep in our indoor facility, no masks. My concern grew more and more.

“I started being really conflicted about playing,” he added. “What this came down to is, I lost one parent. My dad is so important to me. Growing old with him means so much to me, more than football. I don’t know what I would do if I contracted it and gave it to him, and he passed. I couldn’t live with that.”