Conner Mertens story is receiving world-wide attention, because he's the first known college  football player who's announced they are gay while still playing the sport.

Mertens, a former standout kicker for the Southridge Suns, is a red-shirt freshman at NCAA Division-III Willamette University in Oregon.

After making his announcement to his teammates Monday of this week, he had a press conference at the school's athletic center Tuesday.   Junior linebacker Jack Nelson said:

"We care about Conner as an individual, and that's just a part of him,. "We're going to support him in that fashion, but we're also we care about him as a player.

"I know that he's a really good kicker and can be a huge part of this team. It wasn't a big deal and we're glad that he felt comfortable; we're proud of our school and our team."

According to the website,  no college player has ever come out with such an announcement while still playing.  He told USA Today he had struggled with his feelings for years, and decided to tell his family over the winter break.  He admitted, as did his coach, he was nervous about bringing the news to his team, but said it was the best decision to make.    He expects to recover from a knee injury, and will be a favorite to win the team's kicking job when practice sessions begin for the 2014 season.