Top-flight collegiate football player comes out

AFP
Michael Sam watches from the bench during the second half of a pre-season game between the Rams and the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri
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Michael Sam watches from the bench during the second half of a pre-season game between the Rams and the New Orleans Saints at the Edward Jones Dome on August 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri (AFP Photo/Dilip Vishwanat)

Los Angeles (AFP) - Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin has become the first football player in US college sport's elite Division I to publicly announce that he is gay.

Sarafin told Compete magazine, based in Tempe, Arizona, that he had informed his teammates about his sexuality a few months ago.

"It was really personal to me, and it benefited my peace of mind greatly," he told the magazine for its August issue.

Former University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam publicly revealed his homosexuality in February after the college season was over.

He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in May, becoming the first openly gay player on an NFL roster.

Sam acknowledged Sarafin's step on Twitter on Wednesday.

"Congratulations Chip Sarafin for having the courage to be yourself," Sam tweeted. "Wishing you and your teammates much success this season. #Courage 2014."

Arizona State University coach Todd Graham issued a statement saying Sarafin has "full support from his teammates and the coaching staff."

"We are a brotherhood that is not defined by cultural and personal differences, but rather an individual's commitment to the Sun Devil Way," Graham said, adding of Sarafin: "His commitment is unmatched and it is clear he is on his way to leading a successful life after his playing career, a goal that I have for every student-athlete."

In January, Division III Willamette University kicker Conner Mertens became the first active college football player to announce he was gay.

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