Arizona freshman My-King Johnson: It's about football
5:38 PM, Aug 21, 2017
5:04 PM, Aug 24, 2017
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -
My-King Johnson's big smile was met with an even bigger headline when he signed on to play for the Wildcats.
While Michael Sam came out following his Missouri career, and ASU's Edward Sarafin was a walk-on, My-King Johnson is the first openly gay scholarship player in major college football.
It's the question he most often addresses.
"It's been following me a lot," says Johnson. "It's not a problem. I'm loving it. It's fine."
Johnson came out when he was twelve years old.
"It's nothing new. People knew throughout high school. They knew throughout middle school as well."
People also knew Johnson as a fierce pass rusher for the Tempe Buffaloes. Scout.com rated the six foot four Johnson as the top defensive end recruit in the state of Arizona. Rich Rodriguez has called his sexuality a non-story.
"He's a freshman just like everybody else," said Rodriguez. "What he does in his personal life is not a factor in us recruiting him or playing or anything like that. I hope his personal life is a bigger story after he makes an impact on the football field at Arizona."
Johnson's presence just might be what the Wildcat defense needs most. He's someone who can consistently help Luca Bruno, and the line put pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
"I accept everybody on the defensive line no matter what," said Bruno. "It's just a brotherhood. He fits in perfectly with everyone, and he's a great player and smart kid."
"The team is cool with it," said Johnson. "Sometimes, they make funny jokes, but they are jokes that show they are accepting of me."
Johnson cites Serena Williams as a sports star whom he most admires. He does not consider Michael Sam to be a role model.
"Yeah, I think he should have come out sooner," said Johnson. "I think he should have been more open about it. I don't think he should have been scared about anything, and maybe he was worried about being accepted, but honestly, if they're not going to accept you, you shouldn't want to be around them anyway."
In Sam's defense, the political climate has changed in recent years. It's something that Rodriguez, who's originally from conservative West Virginia, sees first-hand.
"Our generation probably looks at it as a bigger deal, but the millennials, the young guys, are like, 'I just hope he can rush the passer.'"
"I love being an inspiration, so I'm loving everything," added Johnson. "It's about football, so let's just get that done."