Scott Frantz, an offensive tackle for the Kansas State Wildcats, came out as a gay man during an interview with ESPN’s Holly Rowe this week, joining a small but growing group of athletes to publicly discuss their sexual orientation.
Like Michael Sam before him, Frantz came out to his teammates well before he did so publicly. He told them he was gay following the 2015 season, when Head Coach Bill Snyder invited a motivational speaker to address the team and, as part of an exercise, players were encouraged to reveal something about themselves they had never shared before.
“This could go either really bad or could go really good,” Frantz told ESPN this week about his decision to come out. “And thankfully my teammates embraced me with open arms, and it was great.”
After redshirting his first year, Frantz became the first tackle to start every game as a freshman for Kansas State in three decades, according to Outsports. His performance in K-State’s bowl game win over Texas A&M last season earned him Associated Press All-Bowl team accolades, and put him on the radar of NFL scouts.
When the Wildcats kick off their season on September 2, Frantz will be the first openly gay active player in the history of FBS football. Michael Sam didn’t come out publicly until his collegiate career was over, and other predecessors weren’t quite as impactful on the field—Chip Sarafin, a walk-on at Arizona State, never played in a game, while Mason Darrow became the first to appear in a game, albeit at the lower FCS level while at Princeton.
Frantz might actually share the honor with My-King Johnson, an incoming freshman at the University of Arizona. Johnson has been out since high school, and is widely thought to be the first openly gay player to be offered an FBS scholarship. It’s unclear whether the defensive end will start as a true freshman.
What is clear is that the barriers keeping young athletes from coming out to their teams and to fans are quickly eroding. In addition to Frantz and Johnson, three other gay college football players at various levels of the game will suit up this fall.