Getty Images

Arizona signee My-King Johnson set to become FBS’ first active openly gay scholarship player

8 Comments

Arizona signee My-King Johnson probably caught most Wildcats’ fans attention with his impressive name when it was listed among the 23 signees for the football program on National Signing Day.

The 6-3, 225 pound defensive end’s name is set to become a little more well known however.

In a story on Saturday in the Arizona Daily Star, Johnson confirmed that he would become the first active openly gay scholarship player in FBS when he enrolls over the summer down in Tucson.

“I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back,” Johnson told the paper about going public with his sexuality. “But whatever.”

Johnson is far from the only gay athlete to play major college football but does appear to be one of the first to go public on the matter prior to suiting up for a major program. Missouri’s Michael Sam came out once he entered the NFL Draft. Just up the road in Tempe, where Johnson went to high school, Arizona State walk-on Chip Sarafin told his teammates in 2014.

From the Daily Star:

When Johnson told UA assistant Vince Amey about his sexuality while being recruited, the coach’s reaction — “We want you to be a Wildcat” — was exactly what he wanted to hear.

Johnson picked the Wildcats despite offers from numerous FBS programs, including many in the Pac-12. Perhaps coincidentally, he really jumped on the radar of the coaching staff when he sacked quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, an Arizona signee himself (and the son of head coach Rich Rodriguez), three times in a high school game.

It certainly seems as though Johnson is very comfortable telling his story to a wider audience than just his teammates and coaches by doing the interview with the Daily Star and the environment down in Tucson has been very welcoming to all the new attention that it will bring. As the Wildcats begin spring practice this month, chances are the coaching staff is probably just as excited about the prospect of Johnson making an instant impact on defense this fall after seeing plenty of issues on that side of the ball during a 3-9 campaign in 2016.

Louisville, USF announce future three-game series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This is one we would’ve liked to have seen when Lamar Jackson and Quinton Flowers would’ve been taking the field.

Be that as it may, Louisville and USF announced Thursday morning that the football programs have reached an agreement on a future three-game series.  The Cardinals will travel to South Florida for Sept. 21, 2024, for the middle game of the series.  The Bulls will head to Papa John’s Stadium Sept. 24, 2022, and Sept. 19, 2026.

“The USF and Louisville programs have featured some of the most exciting players in college football over the last few seasons,” USF athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “We are excited to have Louisville returning to Raymond James Stadium and to add a three-game series with an exciting, top-level opponent with which we share a great deal of history.”

Tne two schools have met in football 11 times previously, most coming when both were members of the now-defunct Big East conference. They first played in 2003, with the last matchup coming in 2013.

The Cardinals hold a 6-5 lead in the mini-series.

Baker Mayfield named winner of 2017 Manning Award

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Baker Mayfield‘s collegiate career may be over, but he’s not finished collecting some hardware from this level.

Thursday, the Allstate Sugar Bowl announced that Mayfield has been named as the winner of the 2017 Manning Award.  The award, named in honor of the quarterbacking Mannings — ArchiePeyton and Eli — is the only one to take into account a quarterback’s performance in the postseason.

“I would like to thank the Allstate Sugar Bowl for creating this award in our family’s name 14 years ago,” said Archie Manning in a statement. “It is an honor to have our name associated with the top quarterback in the nation each year. I would also like to congratulate Baker Mayfield, who capped a tremendous career with an outstanding senior season to earn this honor. To say he took a different path to success would be an understatement. I doubt there’s ever been a player who walked on to two different teams and reached this level of success.”

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner won this honor over a field of finalists that included J.T. Barrett (Ohio State), Kelly Bryant (Clemson), Sam Darnold (USC), Jalen Hurts (Alabama), Lamar Jackson (Louisville), Trace McSorley (Penn State), McKenzie Milton (UCF), Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State), Jarrett Stidham (Auburn) and Khalil Tate (Arizona).

Clemson’s Deshaun Watson had been the winner of the last two Manning Awards.

Report: Death of Bill Snyder’s grandson being investigated as suicide

Getty Images
1 Comment

The situation in Manhattan is tragic enough.  This latest development merely serves to add to the sorrow.

Kansas State confirmed in a statement Thursday morning that the grandson of legendary head football coach Bill Snyder and longtime K-State assistant Sean Snyder, 22-year-old Matthew Snyder, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday afternoon.  While details are scant, USA Today Sports is reporting that Snyder’s death is being investigated as a suicide.

A police spokesperson told the Kansas City Star that the young man’s passing is being classified as an “unintended death,” an umbrella under which suicide falls.

“Right now it is still being classified as an unintended death,” the spokesperson told the Star. “A suicide does fall under that category, but at this time ‘unintended death’ is the language that we are using until we can further investigate.”

Emergency personnel were called to Snyder’s residence in Manhattan yesterday afternoon on an unspecified medical call.  The address of the house to which the first responders were called is listed as being owned by Sean Snyder and his wife.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Snyder family during this very difficult time,” a statement from KSU athletic director Gene Taylor read. “We are deeply saddened to learn of this news and ask that the family’s privacy continue to be respected. Sean, Wanda, and the entire Snyder family are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of support displayed by the K-State Family as they cope with this tragedy.”

In wake of Tyler Hilinski’s suicide, Drew Bledsoe sends powerful message to men

Associated Press
2 Comments

As Washington State continues to come to grips with tragedy, there are those connected to the program who are hoping, even pleading, that something good can come out of the pain.

Tyler Hilinski‘s body was found Tuesday evening at his residence, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head.  As those close to Hilinski mourn the sudden death of the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore quarterback, some, including teammate John Bledsoe, took to social media to express their grief.

Bledsoe is a freshman quarterback at Wazzu who is also the son of Cougar great Drew Bledsoe. On his Instagram account Wednesday, the elder Bledsoe, who acknowledged that he didn’t know Hilinski well, sent out a heartfelt message imploring men “to learn to TALK about how we are feeling.”

“If we sprain an ankle we go see a doctor,” Bledsoe wrote. “If we’re struggling emotionally we have to learn to treat it the same way.”

Everybody needs help at some point.  Male or female, if you’ve gotten to that point, reach out for the help.  As Bledsoe stated, it’s not a sign of weakness it’s the ultimate sign of strength.  Talk to a family member, friend, co-worker, clergy, anyone.  If you’re too embarrassed to talk to someone you know, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is just a phone call away at 1-800-273-8255.

Just talk to someone.  Whether you believe it at the time or not, your life is worth it.