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My-King Johnson (University of Arizona)

My-King Johnson will be NCAA football's first openly gay scholarship player this season

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My-King Johnson will make history when he plays for the University of Arizona's football team.

Johnson, an in-coming freshman defensive end, will be the first openly gay football player to make a major college team on a scholarship, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

He told a UA coach about his sexuality while being recruited. Assistant coach Vince Amey responded, "We want you to be a Wildcat."

I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back. But whatever.
My-King Johnson, on being openly gay in football

Johnson is talented enough that he could make an impact for the team right away. He had previously committed to UCLA before switching to UA. 

"He's got all the tools," said Brian Walker, coach of Johnson's Tempe High School. "He's always had a work ethic. You couple that, along with his frame, and the sky's the limit."

Johnson has tried in the past to deflect focus from his sexuality to his on-field performance.

While college and pro football have grown more accepting of gay players, they're still rare. Michael Sam made headlines as the first openly gay NFL player, but left the league in 2015, Newsweek reported.

I can't wait to be like, 'Yeah, I got to coach the first openly gay kid to be an All-Pac-12 defensive end.'
Vince Amey, UA assistant coach

Beyond Sam, only three college or pro players have come out of the closet: Esera Tuaolo, who came out after retiring from the NFL, Arizona State lineman Chip Sarafin and Princeton's Mason Darrow.

The Human Rights Campaign applauded Johnson.

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