Baylor's Rico Gathers to pursue NFL career after season

Kevin Jairaj / USA TODAY Sports

Baylor star forward Rico Gathers knows what he wants to do after the Bears' season ends.

He wants to play in the NFL.

"Football has been in my heart," Gathers told ESPN. "I feel like it's a natural fit for me."

The dominant senior will attempt to become the latest college basketball standout to transition to the tight end position in professional football, joining names like Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Tony Gonzalez, and Antonio Gates.

"During my free time, I work on my routes all the time," the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder said. "I have my own football, my own cleats, I run 40's all the time. I think I'm ready."

Gathers hasn't played organized football since he was 14, but has attracted interest from NFL teams during his senior season, including the Buffalo Bills. He won't attend Baylor's Pro Day on March 16, though, because he'll be preparing for the NCAA tournament.

The Big 12's leading rebounder, Gathers is averaging 12 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Bears, but his skill set likely won't translate at the NBA level. He posted a vertical jump of 34.5 inches and 6-foot-10 wingspan prior to the 2015 season, which make him an intriguing project for many teams ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft.