Donovan Bonner played alongside Michael Sam for five years at Missouri. Sunday, after Sam announced he is gay, Bonner took to Twitter to offer his support.
"Proud of My bro Mike for finally coming out man takes a tremendous amount of courage!" tweeted Bonner, a linebacker for Missouri who, like Sam, is eligible for the upcoming NFL Draft. "We knew of his status for 5 years and not one team member, coach, or staff member said anything says a lot about our family atmosphere."
Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel released a statement shortly after Bonner's tweet, also offering Sam words of encouragement.
"We’re really happy for Michael that he’s made the decision to announce this," Pinkel said, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy, "and we’re proud of him and how he represents Mizzou."
Multiple sources told Sports Illustrated he came out to his Missouri teammates just prior to the 2013 season. He then delivered 11.5 sacks as the Tigers ripped off 11 wins, including a Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State. Sam will participate at the NFL scouting combine later this month.
The league responded to Sam's news with this brief statement:
"We admire Michael Sam's honesty and courage. Michael is a football player. Any player with ability and determination can succeed in the NFL. We look forward to welcoming and supporting Michael Sam in 2014."
Update: Another of Sam's former Missouri teammates, linebacker Kentrell Brothers, echoed Bonner's earlier remarks:
It takes a lot of courage to do what he did. And we are behind him all the way.
— Kentrell Brothers✈✈ (@Kentrell_Mizzou) February 10, 2014
The University of Missouri's official Twitter account added the following:
We support Tigers of all stripes at Mizzou. Proud of you @MikeSamFootball! #OneMizzou http://t.co/ueLCOJ4RFF pic.twitter.com/DvJ2vTIbgU — Mizzou (@Mizzou) February 10, 2014