I-A College Football
 
 
                 === Former Missouri standout Sam comes out ===
 
 Columbia,  MO  (SportsNetwork.com) -  Reigning SEC  Co-Defensive Player of the
 Year  and former Missouri standout defensive end Michael Sam announced that he
 is gay in an ESPN "Outside the Lines" interview on Sunday.
 
 In  the  interview, Sam stated that  he revealed his sexual orientation to his
 teammates and coaches at Missouri in August of 2013.
 
 Sam  is  considered a  prospect for  the upcoming  NFL Draft  and should he be
 selected,  could become  the NFL's first openly gay player. He is projected by
 most scouting services to be taken in the middle rounds.
 
 His  decision to  publicly announce  his sexual  orientation stemmed  from his
 participation in the Senior Bowl two weeks ago, where Sam said he learned that
 many were already aware that he was gay.
 
 "Coaches just wanted to know a little about ourselves, our majors, where we're
 from,  and something that  no one knows about you," Sam said in the interview.
 "And  I  used that  opportunity just  to tell them  that I  was gay. And their
 reaction was like, 'Michael Sam finally told us.' "
 
 At  the  conclusion of the  2012-13 NBA  season, 12-year veteran Jason Collins
 announced he was gay in a Sports Illustrated article. MLS player Robbie Rogers
 became the first openly gay professional athlete to play in a game in the U.S.
 when he appeared in an MLS game in May of last year.
 
 "We  admire  Michael Sam's honesty and  courage," said the NFL in a statement.
 "Michael  is a  football player. Any player with ability and determination can
 succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in
 2014."
 
 Division  III Willamette  University kicker  Conner Mertens  became the  first
 active  college football  player to announce he  was gay when he came out last
 month.
 
 
 
 
 
 02/09 21:35:43 ET

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