Since being drafted in 2016, the Dallas Cowboys have had their eye on potential break out tight end Rico Gathers.

The Dallas Cowboys have been gradually grooming former Baylor basketball star Rico Gathers into the tight end position. Gathers hasn’t played football since high school, but with his size and athleticism he has the potential to unleash some serious skill on opposing teams. Take a quick look at this smooth move from the 2016 preseason by Gathers:

It’s not easy to transition from basketball to football after years away from the sport. But Gathers’s teammates are excited about the potential Gathers brings to the TE position. Gathers shares what his learning process has been like in this twitter clip:

Gathers recently spoke with the Dallas Morning News about how he’s getting ready for 2017. “Right now I’m just trying to fine-tune my skill,” Gathers said. “That’s the only thing that’s really lacking. The physical part, that’s always going to be the easy part, but the skill of the game, being able to get in and out of your routes and follow the techniques on your blocking, that’s really the main focus right now.”

Gathers has been putting in solid work since he was drafted last year. He’s convinced he’s improved significantly. In fact Gathers is surprised at how much his blocking skills have been enhanced. “[I’m] a hundred times better. Rico Gathers the day after he got drafted didn’t have any technique, was just a big body, a big specimen that was looking to groom himself into something great. But Rico Gathers today is a more confident Rico going forward. I’m ready to just embrace everything that the season, the workouts, the playbook, everything the coaches have to throw at me.”

The sophomore TE isn’t the only one excited to see his talents grow, Gathers’s former Dallas Cowboys tight end coach, Mike Pope, had lots of praise and positivity for Gathers before he left football a few months ago:

“You’re about to bring havoc to the NFL because there are no guys out there that are as tough as you,” said Pope according to Gathers. “There are no guys out there that work harder than you. You got a work ethic that the NFL is really lacking. As long as you keep that work ethic up you’re going to be great, you’re going to be a Pro Bowl tight end, you’re going to be a great tight end.”

Pope also shared that Gathers time spent learning from veterans will increase his talent level exponentially in the long run, “When you got a guy like that who has worked with multiple tight ends, from Jeremy Shockey to Jason Witten to Martellus Bennett, just being around tight ends like that, he’s telling you stuff like that, that just really raises your confidence level and enables you to want to work even harder because you want to see that happen one day,” Gathers said. “I can’t wait to get back to the basics with my teammates and start working toward trying to do something great in Dallas.”

Gathers is being patient with his learning curve. He’s ready to take his time in order to achieve his goals.

“Just to be reliable, being a viable option for the offense when the time presents itself. Just continue to get better. It’s a marathon, not a race. You got to take it one day at a time. You’re not going to become a Hall of Famer overnight. It’s a process.”

But how does Gathers feel knowing Witten recently re-signed a four-year contract extension and thus relegated Gathers to an even longer amount of time before a chance at the starting job?

“That’s great. That means I get to continue learning from a guy like him as long as he wants to play. I’m pretty sure whenever he does decide to retire I’m still going to learn from him. He’s going to be one of those guys who is always in my ear about things and coaching me up. I look at him as a mentor, as a big brother to me. I can’t wait to start working towards being the next guy up after him.”

Lauren Scullion is a lifelong Cowboys fan, secret Packers fan, Dallas Cowboys/ NFL writer, social media guru and NFC East know-it-all.