Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman cleared to play after earlier opt-out

Minnesota receiver Rashod Bateman has received clearance to play the fall season after initially opting out, the team announced Wednesday.

Bateman, who opted out Aug. 4 and signed with an agent to begin preparing for the NFL draft, opted back in after the Big Ten reinstated its fall football season Sept. 16. He has been practicing with Minnesota but needed approval for competition. Minnesota is to open the season Oct. 24 at home against Michigan.

Bateman, who initially opted out because of health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, won Big Ten wide receiver of the year honors in 2019 after recording 60 receptions for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. Bateman has 111 receptions for 1,923 yards and 17 touchdowns in two years with Minnesota.

He will switch from No. 13 to No. 0 this season to represent zero tolerance for racism and as a call to end racism in society.

"Rashod represents everything that is right about college football, and I am filled with joy for him," coach P.J. Fleck said in a prepared statement. "He has always wanted to be a Gopher and now has the opportunity to wear a Minnesota jersey again. Rashod is one of the best football players in the nation, but he's an even better person, teammate and son.

"I am also proud of Rashod for utilizing his platform to encourage social change."

ESPN's Mel Kiper lists Bateman as his No. 10 overall prospect and No. 2 wide receiver for the 2021 NFL draft. Bateman is the latest Big Ten star to opt back in after the league reinstated the fall football season, joining Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore, Ohio State cornerback Shaun Wade and Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis.