Rashod Bateman initially opted out of the 2020 college football season for a reason. In a recent interview with the Star Tribune, he revealed why he made the difficult decision.

The Minnesota wide receiver had a personal battle with COVID-19. After that “scary” experience, Bateman didn’t think it was safe to be back on the field with so many questions and unknowns in regards to the virus.

“Just being scared and not knowing what it can do to my body because nobody really had any answers,” Bateman told the Star Tribune. “And then I just felt like it wasn’t safe to play football this year after going through that.”

Bateman made the difficult decision to opt out in early August, before the B1G initially made the decision to postpone the 2020 season. Because of the timing, it seemed unlikely that the Gophers’ top returning receiver — who totaled 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns last year — would come back.

Playing one more season at Minnesota was something Bateman wanted to do, though. And in explaining what it was like to be away from his teammates and the field during his battle with COVID-19, it’s easy to see why the receiver wanted back in.

“It was a very lonely time because I wasn’t with my teammates,” Bateman said. “You’re going through everything else in the world. You’re not sure where to look, left or right. I mean, I’ve had a football season every fall for practically my whole life. …And not participating in football in the fall, especially with this team and my brothers here and this staff and this university, it really took a toll on me.”

Bateman isĀ  a projected first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s considered one of the best wide receivers in all of college football. He’s happy to be back playing for the Gophers this season. The Gophers are certainly happy to welcome him back.