Minnesota Golden Gophers wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell announced Thursday night that he will be returning for a seventh season in 2023, pending approval of a medical redshirt. He announced his plans — and confirmed he tore his ACL in September — at a charity event at Stubs & Herbs in support of the $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy Chair-ity, which raises funds annually for the Team Jack Foundation and the M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital.
In a podcast interview with Mike Grimm posted on Tuesday, Autman-Bell said, “I will probably end up coming back,” in 2023. “I don’t think it’s anything I can hide or anything. Pretty sure people already know I’m probably coming back. It’s the best idea, the best thing to do.”
He explained to Grimm that he feels returning for one more year puts him in the best position to achieve his dream of playing in the NFL, citing his recent injury and having “not as many stats” as reasons NFL teams might not give him a chance this spring.
Through the first three games of the season, Autman-Bell led the team in receptions (11) and receiving yards (214). A sixth-year senior, he opted to return this season alongside seniors Tanner Morgan, Mohamed Ibrahim, and John Michael Schmitz in pursuit of the program’s first Big Ten title since 1967. After serving as the No. 3 receiver behind Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman in 2019, Autman-Bell seemed poised for a breakout season, but the Gophers’ passing game faltered in two seasons under former offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr.
When he returns next year, he will being catching passes from a new quarterback, with redshirt freshman Athan Kaliakmanis the favorite to take over as starting signal caller.