The postponement of the Big Ten football season in early August prompted a number of opt-outs from players across the conference, with many citing health concerns and general uncertainty concerning the B1G’s plans. However, following the Big Ten’s reinstatement of a fall season on Sept. 16, some players decided to opt in to playing again this season, while others affirmed their decisions to sit out this fall.
Here’s the latest on who’s in and who’s out in the Big Ten:
Opted out, then opted back in:
Rondale Moore (Purdue, Wide Receiver)
Purdue’s star wideout announced last Thursday that he would be opting back in to the 2020 season. In 2018, Moore was the first true freshman all-American in Big Ten history, and although he only played four games last year due to a hamstring injury, he remains one of the most talented players in the B1G. Watch out for Moore to make a big impact when the ‘Cats go up against Purdue in Week 4.
Rashod Bateman (Minnesota, Wide Receiver)
Although the NCAA has yet to officially grant Bateman a waiver to compete this fall, the Minnesota junior announced his intent to opt back in last Wednesday and has already returned to team practice. Last season, Bateman torched the Northwestern secondary for seven catches for 78 yards and three touchdowns on his way to being named Big Ten receiver of the year. Northwestern will get a chance to see Bateman again this season on Dec. 5.
Shaun Wade (Ohio State, Cornerback)
Despite all of Ohio State’s talent, they return many of their starters and potential 2021 NFL draft picks this season. Among them is junior cornerback Shaun Wade, whose dad made headlines in late August for leading a parent protest outside the Big Ten’s headquarters to encourage the conference to revisit the decision to play football in the fall. Wade is considered a consensus first-round pick and will be a major piece of Ohio State’s defense this year.
Wyatt Davis (Ohio State, Offensive Guard)
A team captain and 2019 first-team all-American, Davis’ decision to opt back in was big news for the Buckeyes. The redshirt junior returns as one of the best interior offensive linemen in the country and will be an integral part of an already elite offensive line.
Jalen Mayfield (Michigan, Offensive Tackle)
Mayfield is another NFL draft prospect who recently opted back in following the reinstatement of the fall season. The redshirt sophomore had a strong 2019 campaign and will look to build on his resumé and improve his draft stock this year.
MSU Jacub Panasiuk (Michigan State, Defensive End)
After initially opting out on Aug. 5 due to unanswered questions and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, Panasiuk announced his return to East Lansing on Sept. 18. The senior racked up 34 tackles and five sacks last season, and he is the only returning starter on the line.
Micah Parsons (Penn State, Linebacker)
Coming into the 2020 season, Micah Parsons was seen as arguably the best linebacker in the country and the anchor to a very talented defense. The junior’s decision to opt out on Aug. 6 to begin preparing for the NFL draft was certainly a big blow to the Nittany Lions, who have legitimate playoff hopes this year. Parsons has yet to completely rule out coming back to the team, but his window for return is closing fast.
Rashawn Slater (Northwestern, Offensive Tackle)
This one hits close to home. Star offensive lineman Rashawn Slater announced that he was not returning to the ‘Cats for his senior season on Aug. 20, and he recently reiterated that decision to the team a few days ago, according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. He is projected to be a late-first round pick by most draft experts.
Ra’Von Bonner (Illinois, Running Back)
After the graduations of starting running backs Dre Brown and Reggie Corbin in 2019, senior Ra’Von Bonner was expected to take the leading role in the Illini backfield this year. Bonner was the only running back on the roster with more than fifteen carries last season—he has collected 137 carries for 620 yards to go with six touchdowns in the past two years—, and his decision leaves a lot of question marks in an unproven Illini running back room.
Jordan Reid (Michigan State, Offensive Tackle)
Over the course of Reid’s three years with the Spartans, he’s been a rock for their offensive line. Entering 2020, the senior had started 26 consecutive games at right tackle and was given the team award for most outstanding offensive lineman last season. Unfortunately for first-year head coach Mel Tucker, Reid announced in early August that he would be opting out, and he hasn’t given any indication that he plans on changing his mind.
Ambry Thomas (Michigan, Cornerback)
Ambry Thomas was supposed to be one of the top cornerbacks in the Big Ten this season. In 2019, the senior racked up an impressive three interceptions, three pass breakups and 38 tackles during his first year as a starter for the Wolverines. Michigan doesn’t have a lot of corners on their roster that have seen significant field time, so losing Thomas is a big loss for the defense.
Olu Oluwatimi (Maryland, Defensive Tackle)
Oluwatimi represents another key defensive player that has opted out of the 2020 season. The senior started all 12 games for the Terps last year, and he plans to wait one more year until he takes the field again.