Photo Credit: Orlin Wagner/AP

Kansas State starting left guard Scott Frantz became just the second current openly gay FBS football player Thursday morning, after coming out to ESPN’s Holly Rowe in a recent interview.

Frantz, a sophomore for the Wildcats, joined Arizona freshman My-King Johnson as just second active player, and third overall (Michael Sam), to come out while a member of a major-conference college football program. In speaking with Rowe, Frantz recounted the story of how he informed his teammates in a private, players-only meeting following his redshirt freshman season in 2015. Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder brought in a motivational speaker that “encouraged the players to reveal details about themselves that they had never told anyone else before,” per ESPN, leading Frantz to reveal what he had known since the fifth grade to his teammates:

I was sitting in this meeting just crying. I was sitting in my char I felt sick because I had something on my chest that I wanted to get out there that I hadn’t told anybody. And that was that I’m a gay man. And I remember I stood up and I felt like passing out. I had to sit down on the ground. Alex Barnes actually came over to me, put his arms around me and I told him my story. As long as I remember, I struggled with who I am. I didn’t think anyone could love me, didn’t think that they could accept me. I was afraid of who I was, I was angry of who I was. I just felt myself needing to say it, so I did. I came out to my teammates. I’ve never felt so loved and accepted in my life than when I did that. Ever since then, it’s been great. I’ve grown so much closer to my teammates since then.

In speaking with Rowe, Snyder voiced his support for Frantz, claiming that even if the 6-foot-5 Lawrence, Ks., native would have revealed his orientation during the recruiting process—Frantz said he avoided the topic so as to not harm his prospects—Kansas State would have still pursued him as a recruit:

“I was quite comfortable that they would be very receptive and that they would treat him as they always said,” Snyder told Rowe, “as, you know, his teammate and someone that they cared about. And they did.”

Frantz went on to tell Rowe that although he was aware he was gay starting in the fifth grade, he didn’t accept it until he was a junior in high school, revealing that he dealt with a great deal of internal strife and depression throughout his childhood. He said he came out to his parents a week after his locker-room reveal with his Wildcat teammates. Frantz added that the reason he’s sharing his personal story is because he wants to “reach out to all the other kids who are just like me—who feel that they can’t be accepted, can’t be loved because of who they are.”

In the 2016 season, Frantz started all 13 games, making him the first Kansas State freshman tackle to start for a full season since “at least 1988,” according to his bio. The offensive line helped the Wildcats’ rushing game set a school record for yards per carry; they finished sixth in the nation in rushing touchdowns with 39. He concluded the season by picking up All-Freshman honors from the Big 12 and earned a spot on several publications’ All-Bowl teams after holding No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett sack-less in Kansas State’s 33-28 bowl victory over Texas A&M.

[ESPN]