Meet My-King Johnson, The First-Ever Openly Gay College Football Player on Scholarship
His courage will hopefully inspire the next generation of players.
February 28, 2017 at 4:21 pm
Highly recruited high school football star and University of Arizona commit, My-King Johnson, is the first openly gay scholarship athlete in FBS school history.
The Tempe, Arizona native came out publicly in a local newspaper interview last week, but has been living as an openly gay man since the age of 12.
In a profile in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson says he's always been a straight-forward guy and that he doesn't see why that shouldn't extend to his sexuality as well.
"I’m a very honest person," Johnson told the Star. "I just don’t see how I could be living an honest, truthful life and have that in the background.”
Beyond his dating preferences, the kid can actually play.
His six-foot-four, 225-pound frame and endless skill led him to a stellar senior season. He recorded 21.5 sacks and three forced fumbles — enough for him to be named to the All-Arizona football team. He also had 89 tackles last season, 19 of which were for losses.
His 2016 season was so impressive that it caught the eye of every coach across the country. Johnson was recruited by various Division I schools, getting offers from 11, including the highly touted Oregon, Texas A&M and USC.
Scout.com rated Johnson the No. 52 defensive end in the country, while 247Sports had him at No. 53. On top of that, let's not forget Johnson's 3.8 GPA — meaning he has an IQ for the game as with the size to match.
His talent is unmistakable. Watch his senior season highlights and decide for yourself.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson's sexuality was a complete non-factor for the Arizona coaching staff. The paper reported, "When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach's reaction — 'We want you to be a Wildcat' — was exactly what he wanted to hear."
While there have been previous players in college football that were openly gay, none have been on a FBS team.
Chip Sarafin was a walk-on at Arizona State University but never got to play. Mason Darrow was a long-time starter at Princeton, an Ivy league school. And there are other players from NCAA Division II and III schools and NAIA — including Conner Mertens, Mitch Eby, Kyle Kurdziolek and Darrion McAlister — that have all spoken out about their sexuality in recent years.
Johnson is special in that he's the first openly gay player to be highly recruited out of high school, and the first to go to a major Power-Five Conference school on scholarship.
Michael Sam was openly gay to his University of Missouri teammates and famously came out publicly in 2014. However, his coming out happened after his college career was over, just before he entered the NFL Draft.
We keep asking when pro sports be a safe enough platform for high profile athletes to feel comfortable with coming out. The answer is now.