Several South Carolina football players have publicly expressed feelings that fall somewhere on the spectrum of support and approval of Michael Sam's decision to publicly come out of the closet as a gay football player. While a Gamecock player has yet to say (to our knowledge) anything as strong as "I think Michael Sam's decision to come out was a good thing for the LGBT community, the sport of football, and most importantly Michael Sam," the responses have been positive enough to suggest that a Gamecock football player who decided to come out would be embraced by many of his teammates.
Former South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton, who will be joining Sam in April at the NFL Combine, was probably the most supportive.
Vic Hampton on Sam: I am proud of him. I’m sure it’s tough, being in a football locker room not knowing how they are going to perceive you.— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) February 10, 2014
Vic Hampton says Michael Sam's talent makes situation smoother: "You’re like, ‘(Shoot) he’s gay, but he’s balling.’"— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) February 10, 2014
"I am happy for him," Hampton said. "It's probably a load off his shoulders. He can walk around and be proud of himself. I hope everybody accepts him whatever team he goes to."
Hampton went on to remark that if Sam's teammates were treating him differently because of his sexual orientation, it was not perceptible to the Gamecock players on the field during their double-overtime game against Missouri on Oct. 26.
"All his (teammates) were chest bumping him, smacking him. If he made a play, nobody would be like, ‘Oh, I ain't going to touch him.' They were treating him like he was a regular guy. I applaud his teammates."
Wide receiver Matt Harvey's comments weren't quite as strong of an endorsement but still clearly indicated a belief that Sam's sexual orientation won't have any impact on his ability to succeed in the NFL.
Idc if he is gay, Michael Sam is a beast on the field and will do great things in the NFL— Matt Harvey #CAYD (@Tha_KiD_MaTT) February 10, 2014
For what it's worth, Harvey's tweet was retweeted by teammate Chris Moody and favorited by Devin Washington, a redshirt freshman defensive end who is very upfront about his Christian beliefs on social media.
Meanwhile, Mike Davis is still at the data collection stage.
Michael Sam says he gay ?— Mike Davis (@Mike28davis) February 10, 2014
Walk-on linebacker Kyle Morini is the only player so far to say publicly say anything that would be considered unsupportive.
Sad that a football player says he is gay and we praise him for courage but a football player talks about Jesus and we shun him.— Kyle Morini //\\ (@KM_USC41) February 10, 2014
Dylan Thompson, who will likely be South Carolina's starting quarterback in 2014, has remained silent on Michael Sam so far but spent a lot of time on Twitter equating homosexuality to a life of sin when Jason Collins came out last April.