When freshman defensive end My-King Johnson steps on the field for the Arizona Wildcats in 2017, he will be the first openly gay scholarship player on a Power Five team in college football history.
In a profile interview with Zack Rosenblatt of the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson said he told family and friends he was gay at the age of 12 and didn't want to hide who he is.
During the recruiting process, Johnson told Arizona defensive line coach Vince Amey about his sexuality and got this response: "We want you to be a Wildcat."
Johnson is aware of how his sexual orientation could put him under more scrutiny on the field: "I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back."
Despite that potential target, Johnson explained why making sure he is open with his sexuality is so important to him.
"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.”
Princeton offensive lineman Mason Darrow was the last college football player to come out as gay in 2015 and was believed to be the only openly gay active player in major college football that season, per Fox Sports.
Former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam is the most famous major college football player to come out as gay, though he didn't make it public until after his college career had come to an end.
Johnson signed his national letter of intent with Arizona on national signing day after giving the program a verbal commitment in January. He brings a strong football pedigree with him, per Scout.com, as the No. 1 defensive end recruit from the state of Arizona and No. 52 defensive end recruit in the country.