February 10, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Former Minnesota Gophers offensive lineman Luke McAvoy is recounting how he came out as gay in 2014 when he was on the team.

''I have one regret from my time in Minnesota: I wish I came out sooner. The reality was so much better than I ever imagined,'' McAvoy wrote for Outsports.com in a first-person story posted Wednesday.

The native of Bloomington, Illinois said he knew he was gay in high school but followed his mother's advice and kept it quiet.

''At the time I was focused entirely on maintaining the image of being a straight football player,'' McAvoy wrote. ''I figured if I just focused on being the best football player everything else would go away.''

McAvoy said he decided he would tell his Minnesota teammates Feb. 9, 2014 - the day that former Missouri linebacker Michael Sam came out publicly. Two days later, McAvoy told two teammates and said the relief was ''incredible.''

''I felt better than I ever had. I finally could focus on what was going on around me even though I still wasn't totally out,'' McAvoy recalled.

McAvoy played for the Gophers from 2011-14. He said there never was a team meeting or announcement from him, ''but people learned and I did not deny it anymore.''

While a few teammates did not like his revelation, McAvoy said the reaction was ''nowhere near the outright rejection and hatred that I feared.''

Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill told the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1Lhrp5X ) he was not aware McAvoy, who is now a middle school teacher in Milwaukee, was gay.

''Luke did a tremendous amount for our athletic department,'' Kill said. ''He was a great teammate. He's a giving kid, and that's why I think he'll be a great teacher. I'm very proud of the success he's having.''

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com

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