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Michael Sam thanks 'Mizzou family' in letter published Thursday

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam thanked everyone associated with Mizzou for their acceptance in a letter to the editor published Thursday, which is the Tigers' pro day.

Sam's letter was published in The Missourian, the morning paper in Columbia, Mo.

Sam's pro day will be one of the most closely scrutinized of any prospect. Sam led the SEC and was tied for eighth nationally with 11.5 sacks in 2013, when he also had 19 tackles for loss. But his workout at last month's NFL Scouting Combine was disappointing, as he didn't show the type of athleticism expected.

Sam measured 6-foot-2 and 261 pounds and was clocked in 4.91 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He had a vertical jump of 25.5 inches and turned in a 7.80-second clocking in the three-cone drill, a number more associated with defensive tackles than ends. Sam has 'tweener size but seems to lack the attributes needed to be an outside linebacker.

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Thus, his pro-day numbers are going to be important; look for him to try to improve those numbers across the board.

NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has said Sam's combine workout could lead to him going undrafted.

Sam is attempting to be the first openly gay professional football player. In his letter to the editor, he thanked the Mizzou "family" profusely: "When I came out last month, I did it with the confidence that my Mizzou 'family' would always be there for me. To put it mildly, the love and acceptance I felt was amazing."

He also said, "I have a long journey ahead of me, a lot of hard work and many dreams I want to fulfill. But I do it with the confidence that my Mizzou family will be there for me every step of the way. I will continue to work my hardest; I will strive to make you all proud. And I will be a Tiger forever."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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