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Star offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield will return to Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield had opted out from Michigan when the Big Ten last month postponed the season, choosing to prepare for the NFL and signed with an agent. With the season back on, he is now returning.

Mayfield made the decision Friday to rejoin the Wolverines, two sources confirmed to The Detroit News. TheWolverine.com was the first to report the news.

Jalen Mayfield

There has been similar activity across the Big Ten as players who had opted out after Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on Aug. 11 announced the postponement of fall sports because of lingering health and safety concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, are choosing to return. The Big Ten announced Wednesday it will begin an eight-game season Oct. 23-24 with a plus-one crossover game.

Mayfield took to Twitter on Friday with a "wave" to Michigan quarterback Joe Milton.

Michigan has had a handful of players opt out, including cornerback Ambry Thomas, who said Thursday on Big Ten radio that he’s considering returning, receiver Nico Collins, and Mayfield, who all signed with agents. Quarterback Dylan McCaffrey also has opted out but intends to transfer after graduating in December and will have two years of eligibility.

Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis wrote on Twitter to Mayfield: "Let's go!!! This season will be special for you!!!" Gattis also sent a wave emoji to Collins, suggesting the dominos may be falling with players opting to return.

More: Under the wing of Devin Gardner, Joe Milton ready to be Michigan starting quarterback

The hurdle, of course, is the NCAA and how it will handle the issue of players who signed agents. What is significant is Warren’s open letter sent after the Big Ten’s Aug. 11 announcement when he said the decision “will not be revisited.”

Lawyer Tom Mars, a key figure in college athletics the last few years because of his work to ensure immediate eligibility for Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson in April 2018 after he transferred from Ole Miss, and OSU quarterback Justin Fields, said the solution is easy.

“If the NCAA is smart, they’ll just issue a ‘one-time-only’ blanket ruling, walk it over the goal line on Monday, and spike the ball,” Mars said.

Mayfield’s return is a lift to an offensive line that must rebuild after losing four starters to the NFL after the 2019 season. He started last season at right tackle.

Mayfield is considered a likely first-round selection in the NFL Draft.