Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett shares what he believes is the most impressive thing about former Baylor basketball star turned tight end Rico Gathers.
The Dallas Cowboys knew what they were getting into when they drafted former Baylor basketball star Rico Gathers with their final selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Not having played organized football since junior high, Gathers was attempting to make the difficult leap from the hardwood to the field, on a professional level.
The Cowboys drafted Gathers in the sixth round (217th overall) with their eyes wide open, fully understanding that he was a developmental player. The then 22-year old’s amazing athletic ability was simply too impressive to ignore. Gathers spent his entire rookie campaign on the Cowboys practice squad.
Working on his own, with Dallas’ tight end coach and legend Mike Pope, who recently retired, and with the Cowboys new tight end coach Steve Loney; Gathers took as many reps as anybody did on the team in throughout the year according to head coach Jason Garrett.
While at the NFL Scouting Combine this week, Garrett raved to members of the media about Gathers’ progress, pointing out the player’s passion and work ethic. But last year’s NFL Coach of the Year specifically referenced the young man’s willingness to learn as why he’s making strides.
"“The most impressive thing was just [Gather’s] willingness to dive in there,” Garrett told reporters on Wednesday. “He played offensive tackle for hundreds of snaps this year during the season. We had guys hurt. Rico put a white jersey on, [he’d] go in there and play tackle. And he embraced that. Now, how good was he playing tackle? Probably not as good as he needs to be. But he saw that as an opportunity to learn how to block, get better at my protection, get better at my run blocking. So he has embraced every opportunity and you really see the progress he’s made.”"
There are certainly several reasons to be optimistic about Gather’s future with the Cowboys. Especially after reports were leaked earlier this year that the 6-foot-6, 281 pound tight end was veteran quarterback Tony Romo‘s favorite target during practice sessions with the scout team. DallasCowboys.com football analyst Bryan Broaddus claimed he was told the combination of Romo and Gathers dominated the team’s defensive secondary in those drills.
The fact remains Rico Gathers simply has played a lot of football, especially on this level. But it’s good to know he’s trying to remedy that fact, every chance he can. Even if that means lining up at offensive tackle.