Arizona landed a big-time player when Tempe High School’s My-King Johnson elected to sign a letter of intent to play football in Tucson.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end was one of the better pass rushers out West, and ranked as the top defensive end coming from the state of Arizona after piling up 43.5 sacks over his junior and senior seasons.
Turns out that along with getting what could be a huge addition to their defense, the Wildcats also added a bit of a trail blazer.
As reported by Zack Rosenblatt of the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson will be the first active openly gay scholarship player in major college football history.
According to Rosenblatt, Johnson came out to his friends and family when he was 12 years old.
Being gay, Johnson says, is simply a part of who he is.
“I’m a very honest person,” he said. “I just don’t see how I could be living an honest, truthful life and have that in the background.”
By the time Johnson arrived at Tempe and went out for the football team, he already knew most of his teammates from playing middle school football together.
And they knew him — Johnson was, and is, open about his sexuality.
While this is news to many, it is not to the coaches who recruited and eventually signed Johnson. Vince Amey, who leads Arizona’s defensive line and was the top recruiter for Johnson, was aware long before the letter of intent was signed. The coach’s reaction was part of the reason why the player elected to play for the Wildcats.
“When I found out, I really couldn’t sleep,” Amey said. “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.'”
Before landing with Arizona, Johnson had been committed to UCLA. He also had interest from Oregon, USC, Texas A&M and Arizona State.
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