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Mitch Eby comes out as first openly gay active college player

Just weeks after Michael Sam became the NFL's first openly gay draft prospect, Chapman University defensive end Mitch Eby has come out as the first openly gay active college football player, according to

Eby told his teammates about his sexual orientation March 18 and said he was pleased to find plenty of support from the team's players.

"With the team, I struggled because I didn't want to make waves or upset the team dynamic," Eby said. "I liked where I was, and I was having a lot of fun. I didn't want that to end."

Chapman University is in Orange, Calif., a Division III school in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Sam, the former Missouri defensive end, came out soon after the Senior Bowl. He is expected to be a third-day draft choice May 10, the final day of the NFL draft (rounds 4-7). Eby said he spoke about his experience in coming out to his teammates with Conner Mertens, who came out as college football's first openly bisexual player earlier this year.

Eby's speech to his teammates read in part: "It has taken me years to accept myself for who I truly am, so it's irrational to expect everybody to unconditionally accept me right away. However, the one thing that I hope that I can count on from each of you, my teammates, is your respect. Your respect as a friend, your respect as a teammate, and your respect as a man."

Eby (6-1, 225) is a junior from Santa Monica, Calif.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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