After being selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL Draft, tight end Rico Gathers has yet to play in a regular season game.
The former Baylor basketball star hopes to change that in 2018 But it's not going to be easy.
Gathers missed all of last season after he suffered a concussion during training camp last August. Combine that with the fact that he’s had a limited football career in general and it’s easy to see why he needs all the reps he can get.
"Rico has made a lot of progress. You know his history, he hasn't played football since junior high. There are a lot of steps he has to take to get himself ready to play at this level and he's worked very hard at that,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said.
"When you miss a whole year and you're trying to get back into the flow of it, the first few days be like 'dang, I almost forgot what this was like.' But once you get back into the rhythm of it and stuff like that and just focusing on the things you need to focus on the execution comes naturally,” Cowboys tight end Rico Gathers said.
Gathers hopes to help fill some of the void left by Cowboy legend Jason Witten, who retired back in April. Gathers says despite Witten no longer being on the team, he still feels his presence every day when he pulls up to the practice facility.
"One of the things I keep in remembrance of him is a letter he wrote me for Christmas my rookie year. It just said keep your head down, keep trucking, he loved me as a teammate and stuff...that's my motivation each day to come up here and get better,” Gathers said.
Gathers keeps that letter near the odometer in his truck and he says it means more to him than Witten will probably ever know.
“He probably thinks I done threw it away. But when he wrote that for me it really meant that much to me. I was just coming in as a rookie. I was just trying to find myself. I hadn’t had those major preseason games yet,” Gathers said.
The third-year tight end previously kept the letter in his work backpack but it resurfaced during a recent move.
“I look at it and I read it every day. That’s something that just sticks with me right before I walk into this building,” Gathers said.