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HITCHCOCK, Texas Michael Sam s hometown openly brags about its high school football team.

And nobody brags more about the Missouri Tigers defensive end than his aunt, Geraldine Sam.

Sam and his aunt are so close he took her to the Lombardi Awards dinner in Houston. However, even she was surprised to hear that the NFL prospect is gay.

And getting ready for the NFL draft, it was gonna probably come out, so he wanted to tell his side and be the first to tell it. And I commend him on it, she said.

Sam s announcement means the All-American defensive end SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year may become the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL.

In college, Sam's known as number 52. When he was in high school, friends knew him as a gregarious student, who was gay and it was no big deal.

Well, I mean, we all pretty knew, pretty much had an idea. But I m proud of him for coming out and being honest about who he is, you know, April Hurst said.

Hitchcock school officials refused to talk on camera deflecting media inquiries with a written statement saying in part, Michael Sam is not only a great football player, but also a great person. He demonstrated leadership both on the field and in the classroom.

Now it seems the pride of Hitchcock may lead the NFL into new territory.

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