Michael Alan Sam, Jr. was born on January 7, 1990 in Galveston, TX. Sam attended Hitchcock High School where he played football and was recruited by a number of colleges. Finally, he accepted a scholarship with Missouri.
During his college career, Sam accumulated 123 tackles, including 36 for loss, 21 sacks, six forced fumbles and two intercepted passes. He graduated from Missouri in December 2013, participated in the 2014 Senior Bowl in January 2014.
Early projections had Sam as a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. However, his performance in the NFL Scouting Combine in February 2014 was seen as disappointing, which lowered expectations on whether or not he would be taken in the draft. He was seen as too small to play defensive end and too slow to play outside linebacker, and his pre-draft rankings ranged from 12th to 25th among defensive ends. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round, the 249th of 256 players selected in the 2014 draft. Sam also became the first publicly gay player to be drafted into the NFL. On July 16, Michael Sam won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYS.
In four exhibition games, Sam had 11 tackles and three sacks, including a team-leading six tackles in the final game. But on August 30, St. Louis released Sam as part of a final round of cuts to reduce their roster to the league-mandated 53 players before the start of the regular season. The Rams, who kept nine defensive lineman, chose to retain undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrooks over Sam.
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