TODAY   |  February 10, 2014

Top NFL prospect reveals he’s gay

Michael Sam, a defensive lineman from the University of Missouri and a top prospect for the NFL, has revealed he’s gay, which would make him pro football’s first openly gay player. "I came to tell the world that I'm an openly proud gay man,” he says. TODAY’s Willie Geist reports.

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>> really big deal in the world of sports this morning. a college football player headed to the nfl has revealed he is gay. willie geist joins us now with a look at why the announcement is so significant. as we said, this is huge.

>> a big deal . one of the biggest stars the nfl perhaps to make history following on the heels of jason collins in the nba. michael sam has now revealed he is gay. the 24-year-old expected to be taken early round of the nfl draft come april is now poised to become pro football 's first openly gay player.

>> i came to tell the world i'm an openly proud gay man.

>> michael sam from the university of missouri and a highly touted nfl prospect announced sunday that he is gay.

>> i just want to own my truth before anyone breaks the story about me.

>> sam broke the news publicly in interviews with the "new york times" and espn's " outside the lines ." but something he told his fellow players last august before the start of the tigers' 12-2 season.

>> i came out to my teammates and they took it great, rallied around me and supported me.

>> the announcement means the line man has the potential to become the nfl 's first openly gay player. late sunday night, the university of missouri tweeted its support saying, quote, we support tigers of all stripes at mizzou. proud of you, sam . he was the defensive player of the year, the best defensive player in the best conference in college football . he's expected to be a mid round pick in april's draft. when the season kicks off in september, sam hopes his future career will be defined by his talent rather than by his sexual orientation.