Incoming University of Arizona recruit My-King Johnson came out publicly in a February 25th article in the Arizona Daily Star. Johnson came out to his family and close friends when he was 12 years old. Despite being the first player in the history of NCAA division 1 sports to come out publicly before playing in a game at his University and despite the notable spotlight such a declaration unfairly puts on a person, Johnson is "here to play football", as he tweeted out in the afternoon of the 25th.
Does his sexuality matter? Should it? The answer, of course, is no. But that aforementioned spotlight will likely follow Johnson during his time in Tucson, especially if he is successful. There will be times when that spotlight will feel more like a dark shadow following him rather than a bright light leading him. Such is the nature of the beast with today's news cycle. The most important part is the fact that My-King Johnson is comfortable enough with himself and his family to come out, regardless of the potential hardships he can/will face as a direct result of doing so. In choosing to be out publicly and in then saying that he just wants to play football, Johnson is showing his true character. He, like every other incoming recruit, wants to be himself and he wants to play football to the best of his ability. The publicity isn't his goal, here.
Johnson's talent and abilities are what matter. Johnson, 6'4 and 225 lbs, had 21.5 sacks in his senior year of High School in Tempe, AZ. He had initially committed to UCLA before switching to UA later in the process. He informed his lead recruiter, Vince Amey, of his sexuality during his recruitment. Amey didn't care. Why should he? Arizona is looking for help along its defensive front and Johnson will likely have a chance to contribute to that front early on in his collegiate career.
Will this all put a target on Johnson's back? In 2017, one would hope not. But in reality, immature fans at away or even home games will make asinine comments. Said Johnson, “I do feel like when I say that, it can put a target on my back. But whatever."
As far as Rich Rodriguez and the Arizona coaching staff are concerned, they have an incoming recruit who is extremely athletic, built like a rock, and has the potential to be an integral part of the Wildcat defense for the next few years. Nothing else matters. Johnson is here to play football, and everyone will find out in the next year or two if he can perform well at the collegiate level. There will be uninformed detractors, probable media focus, and extra eyes on Johnson's career at Arizona. He is ready for it. Whether he wants to be looked at as a pioneer or a symbol, that label will likely be forced upon him. None of that matters. "But whatever."