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Arizona football: My-King Johnson ready to take college football world by storm

The Tempe native is excited to play in Tucson

Phireworx Photography

My-King Johnson is ready to take the college football world by storm over the next few years.

Johnson, who is the first openly gay FBS player, has impressed Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez in fall camp.

Rodriguez beams when he discusses Johnson’s potential, saying the 6-foot-4-inch defensive end has what it takes to rewrite the school’s record books before leaving Tucson.

“He’s been good. He’s a true freshman that’s got to get bigger and stronger, but he’s a competitive guy,” Rodriguez says. “I think he’s got a love for football, which I think will help him get better.”

The Tempe High School alum cracked an ear-to-ear smile as he discussed his future.

He’s thrilled to learn the skills necessary to terrify opposing quarterbacks, with a rare combination of speed and size for someone playing on the defensive line.

“They’ve been teaching me like everybody else and putting me in the rotation like everyone else,” Johnson says of Rodriguez’s staff. “They just want to see my physical ability. They’re not interested in all the other things, that’s just my personal life. It has no impact on my football abilities.”

Johnson certainly has the pedigree to support Rodriguez’s assessment of his potential, with 35.5 sacks in his last two years in Tempe.

The three-star recruit has spent much of the summer grinding through grueling workouts, trying to add weight to his 225-pound frame.

He’s not sure how much playing time he’ll see this fall in the Old Pueblo, but says he’ll savor his first college season regardless.

“I’m just looking forward to getting that game experience, and getting all of the crowd jitters out,” Johnson says. “Just the things that tend to give you anxiety. I’m just trying to get a feel for everything, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

One-of-a-kind player

Sit down with Johnson and you’ll see the personality and charisma that has catapulted the tall lineman to football stardom.

He’s comfortable with whatever role he can fill for Rodriguez and company this fall, and says he’s grateful for the opportunity to don the red and blue on the gridiron.

“I’m a very calm person,” Johnson says. “I’m very outgoing. I love meeting new people. I’m not shy at all, so I love talking to people and getting to know them. And I’m the type of person that will ask you how your day is going, no matter what.”

Rodriguez says the freshman’s even-keeled mentality is special, and that the future is bright for the East Valley native.

“I’m not sure how much he’ll help us this year, but I’m glad we signed him,” Rodriguez says. “Because I think he’s got a heck of a future here.”