Baylor basketball player Rico Gathers to play a year of college football before trying NFL

AUSTIN, TX – FEBRUARY 20: Rico Gathers #2 of the Baylor Bears moves with the ball against Shaquille Cleare #32 of the Texas Longhorns at the Frank Erwin Center on February 20, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Tony Gonzalez. Antonio Gates. Jimmy Graham. Rico Gathers?

Not quite yet.

Gathers, a burly Baylor basketball bruiser best known for his tenacious rebounding, will play one season of football for the Bears before trying his hand at the NFL.

The 6-foot-8-inch, 275-pound senior has drawn considerable attention from NFL teams despite not playing football in college or high school.

Before Gathers hits the gridiron he will finish his final season for the Bears, who are 21-8 and will likely make the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year. Gathers is averaging 11.6 points and 9.6 rebounds but is considered too small for his position to play basketball at the next level.

It’s far from unprecedented for successful college power forwards to find success in the NFL. Gonzalez (Cal), Gates (Kent State) and Graham (Miami) all played Division I basketball before becoming stud tight ends.

Of course it makes sense for Gathers to spend some time learning the ropes of the position in college before embarking for the pros. And if anyone is suited to teach a talented athlete a new position it’s Baylor coach Art Briles, who switched 400-pound LaQuan McGowan to tight end last year and experimented with players of all positions at quarterback when injuries sapped the team of its signal callers.

According to ESPN, Gathers seems to have the right mind-set to make the sport switch work out.

“During my free time, I work on my routes all the time,” he said. “I have my own football, my own cleats, I run 40s all the time. I think I’m ready.”

Big 12 linebackers and safeties, beware.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.