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Arizona recruit to become first openly gay major college scholarship football player

Arizona recruit My-King Johnson is 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He signed a national letter of intent to be a Wildcat in January.

Rich Rodriguez and his staff hope the Tempe High School defensive lineman will have a big impact on the program -- and not only because he amassed 22 sacks as a junior, including 6 1/2 in one late-season game against Seton Catholic. He added 21 1/2 more sacks, 19 tackles for loss and three forced fumbles as a senior.

Three of those sacks came against Catalina Foothills, whose quarterback Rhett Rodriguez happens to be Rich Rodriguez's son and an Arizona signee. Johnson's performance opened eyes, and now it is giving him a chance to make college football history.

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My-King Johnson is set to become the first openly gay scholarship player in major college football history, Tucson.com reported.

When Johnson told Arizona assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality, the defensive line coach had a simple and clear response: "We want you to be a Wildcat."

"When I found out, I really couldn't sleep," Amey told the paper. "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.'"

When Johnson's mom, Nadette Lewis, moved to Seattle two years ago, she told her son he could stay in Tempe with his grandmother if he chose. Johnson opted to do so and starred on the gridiron and classroom, where he carries a 3.8 GPA.

A teammate and friend, Alfonso Arispe told Tucson.com Johnson's openness is "cool."

"I love how open he is," Arispe said. "He doesn't care because he's focused on what he's doing, and he's focused on himself. Clearly, it shouldn't affect anyone else, but no matter what, he doesn't care about that. It doesn't bother him one bit."

My-King Johnson isn't worried about being a pioneer. He wants to help the Wildcats.

"I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back," Johnson said about being open about his sexuality. "But whatever."