IRVING, Texas – Rico Gathers isn't accustomed to having this many teammates.
The former Baylor basketball star arrived at Valley Ranch on Thursday with the rest of the Cowboys' 2016 rookie class to get set for the team's three-day rookie minicamp – the first on-field football for the sixth-round draft pick since age 13.
"I've never seen such a big locker room for so many players. I'm used to 12 or 15 other guys," Gathers said. "Now we're all here and we're here to make this journey worth our while. Hopefully we become successful Cowboys."
On Thursday, rookies received their equipment, underwent physicals and took individual photos. On Friday they'll take the field in an organized practice for the first time in months, having gone through one long job interview of sorts since finishing up their college careers.
"It's definitely a relief," said defensive end Charles Tapper, one of two fourth-round picks. "The process was a fun process, but we all want to do what we love to do and that's go out here and play football. We finally get an opportunity."
One exception, of course, is second-round linebacker Jaylon Smith, who continues to recover from the knee injury suffered in his final college game on New Year's Day.
In addition to welcoming their draft picks this weekend, the Cowboys are also expected to sign close to 15 rookie free agents for minicamp.
Gathers, a star power forward at Baylor, last played football in eighth grade as a tight end and receiver. The Cowboys feel the 6-6, 270-pound Gathers has the frame and speed to play tight end. He's looking forward to the challenge of re-learning the nuances of the game.[embeddedad0]
"I'm pretty sure some of the stuff that they're asking of me is going to be new, the majority of it," he said. "It's just about paying attention and really dialing in from the time we hit the field to whenever we go into our meetings and stuff, and just everything."
Minicamp will be the rookies' first experience as teammates, though some have past connections. Tapper said he and defensive tackle Maliek Collins, the Cowboys' third-round pick, trained for the NFL Combine together in Phoenix.
When they report to Valley Ranch on Friday, the message is clear:
"Get ready to come to work and compete," sixth-round cornerback Anthony Brown said.
The 2016 rookie class reported to Valley Ranch for physicals and rookie minicamp.