After watching Rico Gathers play tight end for the Dallas Cowboys, Ish Wainright will take his chances on the Baylor football team.
Wainright suited up for Baylor’s Tuesday practice after finishing his fourth season with the Bears basketball team at Madison Square Garden last month. The 6-5, 235-pound Wainright will have one year of collegiate eligibility on the football team in the fall.
“He’s got the frame that looks like an NFL tight end,” said Baylor coach Matt Rhule. “He’s got really good hands and from what I’ve seen he hasn’t been afraid to block. We haven’t put him in any live situations yet. But in drill work he’s shown a comfortability in blocking.”
Following his basketball career for the Bears, the 6-8, 280-pound Gathers was a sixth-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys last spring and spent the 2016 season on the practice squad.
Wainright was one of the leaders of Baylor’s basketball team that reached the Sweet 16 this year as he averaged 5.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He started all 35 games and was the only senior on the squad.
“Just as a fan I noticed Ish appears to be a really good team guy and a tremendous leader and person,” Rhule said. “We’re excited to see if this works out. We recruited him really hard. Ish will try to work out all the kinks over the next year.”
The Bears are stacked at tight end Jordan Feuerbacher, Sam Tecklenburg, Quan Jones, Josh Malin and Jayson Clements on board. Though Wainright hasn’t played football since ninth grade, Rhule believes he can make up ground fast since since several members of his staff have NFL coaching experience.
“There’s guys doing this transition all over the NFL and I think we have really great coaches who think outside the box,” Rhule said. “If it doesn’t work out he’ll just go back to playing (pro) basketball. He’s got a pretty cool legacy right now as a Baylor Bear and he can add on to that, and maybe has chance to play pro football.”