Former Riverside, Baylor hoops star Ricardo Gathers may have found his calling with Cowboys
As he grabbed a rebound and slam dunked the basketball, an opposing coach said the following.
“That young man should be playing football.”
Fast forward six years later.
Former Riverside Academy basketball star Ricardo Gathers is doing what he does best. Going up and getting the ball.
This time, however, it is on national television in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
Gathers out-wrestled a defender for the football for a 26-yard touchdown reception. Now a tight end for the Dallas Cowboys,
he had three catches for 59 yards in a 20-18 win over Arizona.
Reporters huddled around Gathers’ locker after the game.
“It is big time to go from the practice field, and being on the practice squad the entire season, to actually doing it against other competition in the league,” said Gathers. “That was a big confidence booster.”
The Cowboys took a chance on Gathers with a sixth round pick in the 2016 NFL draft despite the fact he had not played college football. They saw a freakish athlete, 6-foot-6 inches tall and 290 pounds.
Gathers, a former standout forward at Baylor, spent the entire 2016 season on the Cowboys practice squad. When he was tabbed to start the Hall of Fame Game, he felt an offseason of work had him ready for the challenge.
“From blocking to watching my weight. A lot of route running, just a lot of everything to get to this point,” said Gathers.
“Now, I am here and I am ready to show the world what Rico Gathers is about.”
Riverside Academy basketball coach Tim Byrd said he’s not surprised that the leading rebounder in the history of Baylor basketball is making the most of his football opportunity.
“He’s very smart,” said Byrd. “He saved eight years of wear and tear on his body by not playing football (in high school or college). Now, he’s doing what God made his body to do.”
That’s being a big red zone target for Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott.
“When it goes up in the air that is my ball. That is how I was coached,” said Gathers. “From the rebounds, I just look at it as pretty much the same way.”
Football success is already part of the Gathers family history.
His brother Greg, once a star at East St John High School, went on to be a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection at Georgia Tech.
A kidney disorder cut short Greg’s NFL dream but his not-so-little brother appears to have as big an NFL future as his massive frame.
In Canton, the third leading rebounder in the history of the Big 12 Conference was brimming with gridiron confidence.
“I played all of my preseason reps from last year in one night, tonight,” said Gathers. “That should tell you the progress and confidence they have to put me out there.”
In the NFL.com 2016 pre-draft guide, an evaluation of Ricardo Gathers might turn out to be prophetic.
“Gathers is a prospect with an upside that is worth waiting for.”
The wait may be over.
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WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…