With the 27th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Ravens selected Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman. Bateman grew up in Tifton, Georgia. Like many young kids, Rashod had big dreams of one day playing in the NFL. Football brought comfort to a young Rashod in a chaotic childhood. His mom had to work long 12+ hour shifts to support Rashod and his 2 brothers, and his Step-Father was an alcoholic who constantly abused his mom. The family was forced to move multiple times, often coming home to no running water or electricity. At 7-years old, Rashod wanted nothing more than to help his mom, but there wasn’t anything he could do other than try to comfort her. Football became an escape for Rashod. He’d sit in front of the TV and get lost in the game.
Rashod’s mom made sure he was signed up for football from a young age. Rashod finally had his escape, right? Well kinda. Football got him away from his abusive stepfather, but it continued to serve as a reminder of his family’s financial struggles, as he’d see kids with new cleats, new balls, things his family couldn’t afford. When Rashod was 13, his mom finally divorced his stepfather. This became a turning point for his family. The financial struggles were still there, but now instead of fearing for his mom's life, Rashod could focus on keeping his promise to her... making it to the NFL.
Rashod attended Tift County Highschool, where he played Basketball and Football. He was a 4-year Varsity Basketball player, who had promise, but it was still Football that had his love. Rashod wasn’t an instant prodigy. He was always deemed undersized and too slow, but he had heart. Every year he worked to get better and better and better. He wouldn’t see Varsity football until late in his sophomore year when a wide receiver ahead of him tore his ACL. Rashod took the opportunity and never looked back. After a strong junior season, he committed to Minnesota. He went on to have an even better senior year, breaking the single-season school record with 83catches, 1,539yards, and 21TDs, and being named 1st Team All-State. After that year, more offers poured in, but Rashod would stick with Minnesota.
As a Freshman at Minnesota, Rashod would play in all 13 games, set the Freshman records for catches and yards, and come up a touchdown shy of tying the standing record. As a sophomore, he continued his success. Playing every game again and racking up 60 catches for 1200yards, good enough for 2nd most in a single season at Minnesota and 11TDs good enough for 3rd most in a single season. He also earned the BIG10 receiver of the year, was one of 12 finalists for the Biletnikoff Award, and Team MVP. He also earned All-BIG10 First-Team and AP Third-Team All-American honors. As a Junior, he would only play in 5 games. Finishing the year with 36catches, 472yards, 2TDs. He initially opted out of his Junior year due to Covid before opting back in. Partway into the season, Minnesota had a Covid-19 outbreak, which led to Rashod opting out again and turning his full attention to fulfilling his childhood dream.
April 29, 2021, that dream came true!