All the jokes about Baylor Bears‘ big man Rico Gathers having the physique to be a football player might actually come true.

The 6-foot-8, 280 pound forward was expected to have a breakout senior year for the Bears in 2015-16, but found his averages dipping below his junior year and seeing his career end in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when Baylor was upset by the 12-seed Yale Bulldogs.

Gathers’ basketball eligibility is done and it has since become more more public about his intent to pursue an NFL career.

The signs do not point in his favor, however.

Despite missing Baylor’s NFL pro day due to playing in the NCAA Tournament, Gathers has decided not to attempt to play college football for Baylor in 2016 and will instead prep himself for the NFL right away. Gathers has no prior football career and hasn’t played it organized since he was 14 years old.

To Gathers, growing up football came easy to him, but he enjoyed the challenge and all that came with playing the game of basketball.

“Football was just too easy at the time,” he told ESPN. “I played everything. Started playing quarterback. I was Cam Newton. That’s what I was in the pocket. I would also go to the LSU football camps. Les Miles, Nick Saban. Once I got taller in eighth grade, that was my last year playing.”

His brother, Greg Gathers, a former college football player at Georgia Tech, would always tease Rico whenever he would see him on the basketball court.

“I remember joking with him, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing on this basketball court, you’re gonna be a football player.” Greg said.

Today, after about a decade of playing organized basketball, Gathers hopes to convert his athleticism and size onto the gridiron and join the ranks of former basketball players that became NFL tight ends (Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham).

Gathers has worked hard and now has a pro day set up in his hometown of New Orleans on April 25 for the Dallas Cowboys. Despite not playing organized football for eight years, he seems to be picking it up just fine in preparation for the NFL Draft.

“A lot of people think I’m crazy,” acknowledged Gathers in regards to passing up an opportunity to play college ball first. “The NFL’s been a dream for me ever since I was 7 years old.”

Gathers also noted another reason he chose to play basketball was to avoid the wear and tear it would have done to his body. Calling his basketball career a “business decision,” Gathers will now chase something he is passionate about.

“I was just to the point where I want to go back and do what I really love doing. Because football is my first passion.”

Trevor Jossart is a staff writer covering college basketball and NBA for The Sports Blaze. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter – @TrevKnowsSports

About The Author

Trevor Jossart
Editor-In-Chief - The Sports Blaze

Trevor Jossart is a graduate of Marian University, WI with a Sport & Recreation Management degree. He is currently pursuing a Masters in Sports Marketing and Media at Liberty University. In his spare time he is either playing basketball, coaching basketball, or watching basketball. He is a diehard Wisconsin Badger fan, and people call him "Trev Knows" because of his knowledge of sports.

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