Few people know former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay draft prospect, better than Kony Ealy.
They shared a team, a position, and even a room at Missouri.
Ealy, a potential first-round pick and squarely in the second tier of available pass rushers behind Jadeveon Clowney, told the College Football 24/7 podcast that he and Sam got along just fine as roommates at Mizzou.
"We hung out with a lot of other guys," Ealy said. "We understood his situation. At the end of the day, it was nothing, it was just a form of sexuality that wasn't the same as everybody else's. I'm cool with that. I have no negative things to say as far as that. He's going to be with whomever he wants to be, and that's not my decision. As long as he shows up on Saturdays -- or for him now on Sundays -- and just plays like I know he can play and dominate, it shouldn't be a worry."
Sam and Ealy formed the SEC's most dominant defensive end tandem with a combined 21 sacks for 130 yards in losses on the season for the Tigers. Ealy, who said he will participate fully in the various NFL Scouting Combine drills, is a cousin of NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Sheldon Richardson, who played on the Missouri defensive line with Ealy and Sam last year. In fact, Richardson roomed with Sam in 2012, and also had positive things to say about the 260-pound pass rusher.
Ealy, one of Missouri's more outspoken players, summarized the buzz around Sam's announcement by noting Sam isn't on his way to being the NFL's first gay player, only it's first to be open about it.
"Let's be realistic," Ealy said. "There are probably more than just him in the NFL that are probably like that. People are blowing it out of proportion. Mike's a good guy. I love him (as) a brother. I sweat, blood, tears with the guy. There is nobody else I would rather go to war with."
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.