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Minnesota Football: Chris Autman-Bell to return for a sixth and final season

The Gophers’ top wide receiver is coming back for one last ride

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Minnesota at Indiana Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell announced Thursday night that he will return for a sixth and final season, taking advantage of the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA due to the COVID-impacted 2020 season.

Autman-Bell missed the first two games of the 2021 season due to an ankle sprain suffered during preseason camp but finished the year as the team’s leader in receptions (35), receiving yards (490), and receiving touchdowns (6). His return for next year bolsters a Minnesota receiving corps that struggled to find consistent contributors in the passing game this season. The Gophers will return their top five pass catchers from this season, including Autman-Bell, Mike Brown-Stephens, Dylan Wright, tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford, and Daniel Jackson.

Quarterback Tanner Morgan and running back Mohamed Ibrahim have both also announced their intentions to return next year, so Minnesota will have plenty of familiar faces at the skill positions (and an old friend at offensive coordinator). The Gophers are awaiting decisions from offensive guard Blaise Andries and center John Michael Schmitz. If neither opts to return next season, Minnesota will have to replace all five starting offensive linemen.