Dallas Cowboys

Rico Gathers hasn’t felt basketball itch since turning to football

Rico Gathers remains all-in on football dream.
Rico Gathers remains all-in on football dream. mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

Former Baylor basketball standout Rico Gathers has maintained all along that football ranked his priority once the Dallas Cowboys used a sixth-round pick on him last spring.

That mindset hasn’t changed after going through training camp and preseason. After all, what else was Gathers going to say after making his first professional catch on Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Houston Texans?

Asked if the basketball itch ever returned, Gathers said: “Nah.

“This wasn’t going to be an easy task for anybody switching sports. For the most part, it’s about commitment. I could’ve got down on myself plenty of times, I have got down on myself plenty of times, but that only motivated me to keep coming back each day and getting better. For the most part, I feel I’ve done that.”

The Cowboys and Gathers knew it would be an uphill battle to turn the former first-team All-Big 12 power forward into a tight end. And there were signs of progress throughout the game.

Gathers made an impressive catch in the fourth quarter and turned it into an 8-yard gain, showcasing some of his paint presence in the process.

“I did box somebody out and turned it into a big-yard play,” Gathers said, smiling. “I was just trying to stay up and push for some more yards. It was a crazy catch. I don’t know how I pulled that one off, but I guess reaction and timing is everything.”

And Gathers remains just as determined to become a professional football player. It’s unlikely the Cowboys would add him to the 53-man roster, but he is certainly a candidate for the practice squad.

Gathers passes the eye test and has improved considerably since joining the team.

“He’s such a young player, he hasn’t played that much football,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s made great strides over the last few weeks.”

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