TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona Wildcats recruit My-King Johnson is set to become the first active openly gay scholarship player in major-college football history.
“I do feel like when I say that [I’m gay], it can put a target on my back. But whatever,” Johnson told The Arizona Daily Star.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end starred at Tempe High School. He signed with the home-state Wildcats after verbally committing to Pac-12 Conference rival UCLA.
The Daily Star reported that Johnson said he was gay to Arizona defensive line coach Vincent Amey during the recruiting process. Johnson said Amey replied that “we want you to be a Wildcat.”
“When I found out, I really couldn’t sleep,” Amey told the Daily Star. “And it wasn’t like I was uncomfortable with it. I was just like, all right, it’s different, it’s new. … I said, ‘Look, you are who you are, I am who I am, and I’m going to coach you the same way. I’m going to treat you the same way. I’m going to get on you the same way as everybody else. There’s no difference. You do what you do.’
“I said, ‘When the players find out, especially my room, I’m going to tell [those] dudes: Look, you gotta have his back.'”
Now 17, Johnson said he was 12 when he came out to his friends and family.
“I’m a very honest person,” he told the Daily Star. “I just don’t see how I could be living an honest, truthful life and have that in the background.”
Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam announced he was gay in February 2014, about a month after completing his college career.