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From Basketball to Football: Rico Gathers Shows Off Skills

The saying goes, “Don’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover.”

In Rico Gathers case, don’t judge an athlete by the sport he used to play.

The former Baylor University basketball standout – who did not play college football – has had the ball thrown to him 7 times during the Dallas Cowboys‘ first two pre-season games by two different quarterbacks. And he’s caught them all for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yard score from rookie quarterback Cooper Rush in Saturday’s 10-13 loss against the Los Angeles Rams.

Saturday’s touchdown was preceded by his  26-yard touchdown from quarterback Kellen Moore in the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 3.

Cowboys Nation, there’s a football player inside that basketball player body’s. And it’s all everyone is raving about.

Gathers hasn’t played team, organized football since he was in junior high school. But you wouldn’t know it from the way he’s lighting up the pre-season. He is the epitome of talent making up for experience. And that talent, not to mention his style, size and overall pizazz is what should earn him one of those precious 53 roster spots.

The 6’6 athletic Gathers looms large over those charged with covering him. He was selected in the sixth round (217th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft and is showing that he is as capable of catching touchdowns as he was scoring baskets at Baylor.

He entered Baylor on a basketball scholarship and became a starter (power forward) as a junior, averaging 11.6 points (second on the team), 11.6 rebounds (led the team), 1.2 steals and one block and in 29.9 minutes per game. He received All-Big 12 honorable mention and All-American and Big 12 All-Defensive Team honors.

Gathers also led the conference in double-doubles with 17 and is Baylor’s All-Time Leading Rebounder. He also is the first player ever to reach over 1,000+ points and 1,000+ rebounds in school history.

Yet it is the NFL and its fans, not the NBA and its fans, who are enjoying the talent and showmanship that is currently Rico Gathers.

He should and likely will make final roster but his actual playing time may be in question as he will need to compete with Geoff Swaim and James Hanna – blocking tight ends who, although both are coming off an injury-filled season – still excel at the Cowboys’ staple – the run game.

But there appears no need to worry about Gathers at this point. He seems to haveturned the page on the basketball playbook he used to read and is firmly focused and entrenched in a new playbook – the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.



Credentialed media member and writer covering the Dallas Stars. | Dorothy J Gentry is an educator and journalist covering the NBA, Mavericks, WNBA, Wings and Dallas area sports & entertainment for Texas Metro News,, Garland Journal, Dallas Sports Fanatic & others. She is a member of the NABJ Sports Task Force.

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