Baylor hoops star Rico Gathers will head to NFL, not play college football

Rico Gathers (USATSI)
Rico Gathers will reportedly try his hand at football this fall. (USATSI)

Baylor power forward Rico Gathers intends to pursue the NFL, not play college football for the Bears in 2016, a school spokesman told CBS Sports on Tuesday.

ESPN first reported Gathers was lining up private workouts for NFL scouts, though a report Monday from the Houston Chronicle noted that Gathers would instead stay at Baylor and play football for Art Briles in 2016 as a means of learning the tight end position.

“He says his intent is to play for the NFL, not at Baylor,” the Bears' spokesman confirmed.

Another source close to the basketball program reiterated Gathers' choice. Gathers said last week it was in his best interests to pursue an NFL career.

The road might be a tough one. Gathers -- a senior at 6-foot-8, 275 pounds -- hasn’t played organized football since age 14, according to a source. His basketball eligibility expires after this season.

Gathers will miss Baylor’s NFL pro day on March 16. That’s the day before the start of the NCAA Tournament.

“Whatever decision he chooses to make, we’re 100 percent behind him,” Baylor basketball coach Scott Drew told Dallas SportsDay. “If football proves to be the better option, we’re 100 percent behind him.”

Gathers’ athleticism cannot be denied. An All-Big 12 pick as a junior, he is currently the league’s leading rebounder and stands sixth in shooting percentage.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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