Baylor’s Rico Gathers has not played the game of football since the age of 13. Even with being out of the game so long this is not stopping the 6-foot-7, 276-pound Gathers from attempting to fulfill his NFL dream.
Gathers is following the Antonio Gates route of not playing college football and attempting to make the jump to the NFL as a tight end. “A lot of people think I’m crazy. The NFL’s been a dream for me ever since I was 7 years old,” said Gathers,who played wide reciever in middle school in his hometown of LaPlace, Louisiana.
Gathers had potential as a football player all the way back in high school when he chose to play basketball over football. “When I made that decision in the eighth grade, all the high school football coaches in my area, from John Curtis to East St. John to Destrehan, they were like, ‘You’re crazy, man,'” Gathers said. Gathers cites the issues of wear and tear on the body for choosing basketball over football at the time.
Gathers wants to follow his passions and football he says is that passion. “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,” Gathers said. “I’m real passionate about what I’m doing, and I just want to make sure I dial in and give it my all.”
Gathers has been training with NFL quarterback Matt Flynn and Traction Sports Performance and Flynn sees clear potential in Gathers’ football talents. “The improvement that I’ve seen the last couple weeks has been dramatic,” Flynn said. “…if he keeps working at it and gets the right coaching. … Every NFL team is looking for a guy that physical. And if he can show that he has the talent and the ability to improve, then he’ll get all the opportunities he wants.”
The New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys have already showed interest in Gathers heading into the draft. ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay does not believe Gathers is worth a draft pick, “but he will at least get a camp look.”
Gathers is excited as the 2016 NFL Draft is now currently days away. “A lot of people will say, ‘The last time you played football you were 13,'” Gathers said. “I’m like, ‘That’s cool. But I’ve got something that you just can’t teach, and I work hard, and I’m an eager learner’ I look at myself as a steal.” Gathers will have to sit on his seat comfortably as his name may not get called this weekend, but he will surely have an NFL opportunity as OTA’s and training camp are approaching.