Sam Ehlinger

Samuel George Ehlinger (born September 30, 1998) is an American football quarterback for the Texas Longhorns. He was a consensus four-star quarterback recruit coming out of Westlake High School near Austin, Texas where he broke school records held by Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Drew Brees and Nick Foles. He committed to the University of Texas at Austin in July 2015 and joined the team two years later. In his freshman season with the Longhorns in 2017, Ehlinger split playing time with quarterback Shane Buechele, playing in nine games and compiling a 2–4 record as a starter. Ehlinger solidified his position as Texas's starting quarterback in his sophomore year, starting in all 14 games and leading his team to the Big 12 Conference Championship game for the first time since 2009 and winning the 2019 Sugar Bowl to end the season 10–4.

Sam Ehlinger
Sam Ehlinger.png
Texas Longhorns – No. 11
PositionQuarterback
ClassJunior
MajorBusiness [1]
Career history
College
Bowl games
High schoolWestlake (Austin, Texas)
Personal information
Born: (1998-09-30) September 30, 1998 (age 21)
Austin, Texas
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight230 lb (104 kg)

Early years

Ehlinger attended and played quarterback for Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, where he was coached by Todd Dodge. Ehlinger graduated as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns.[2] He was named the MaxPreps National Junior of the Year after his junior season, and was rated by Rivals.com as a four-star recruit.[2][3] He committed to play football at the University of Texas on July 28, 2015.[3]

US college sports recruiting information for high school athletes
Name Hometown High school / college Height Weight Commit date
Sam Ehlinger
QB
Austin, Texas Westlake High School 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 222 lb (101 kg) Jul 28, 2015 
Recruiting star ratings: Scout:    Rivals:    247Sports:     ESPN grade: 83
Overall recruiting rankings:
  • Note: In many cases, Scout, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN may conflict in their listings of height and weight.
  • In these cases, the average was taken. ESPN grades are on a 100-point scale.

Sources:

  • "2017 Texas Football Commitment List". Rivals.com. Retrieved October 9, 2017.
  • "2017 Team Ranking". Rivals.com. Retrieved October 9, 2017.

College career

2017 season

Rushing leaders for Texas in 2017[4]
Player Rushing
Attempts
Rushing
Yards
Rushing
TDs
Sam Ehlinger 114 381 2
Daniel Young 81 373 3
Chris Warren III 71 314 6
Kyle Porter 83 261 4
Toneil Carter 53 252 3

Ehlinger joined the Texas Longhorns under new head coach Tom Herman, who inherited an offense led by sophomore starting quarterback Shane Buechele.[5] Addressing competition between Ehlinger and Buechele for the starting quarterback position for the 2017 season during spring practice, offensive coordinator Tim Beck described Buechele as having quicker adaptability than Ehlinger.[6] During the spring game on April 15, Ehlinger played on the second-team offense against the first-team defense, scoring a touchdown and passing for 148 yards.[7] Through spring and much of summer practice, coach Herman did not explicitly declare a starting quarterback for the season, though by late August he had hinted that Buechele would be starting, citing his experience.[8] The depth chart for Texas' opening game against Maryland on September 2, Ehlinger was listed as the second-string quarterback.[9] He did not see playing action in the eventual loss to Maryland; however, Buechele injured his throwing shoulder over the course of the game, resulting in Ehlinger taking practice repetitions with first-team starters following the game.[10]

After Buechele was ultimately sidelined due to injury, Ehlinger made his first career start for Texas on September 9, 2017, against the San Jose State Spartans,[11] leading the team to a 56–0 victory with 222 passing yards and a passing touchdown alongside 48 rushing yards. This made him just the tenth freshman to start a game at quarterback for the university.[12] The starting quarterback role remained unsettled during the following week as Buechele was able to practice with the team while recovering from his shoulder injury.[13] Ehlinger was eventually selected as the starter against #4 USC Trojans, completing 21 of 40 passes and two touchdowns in the double overtime loss.[12] Ehlinger was able to connect with wide receiver Armanti Foreman on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Longhorns a late lead before the Trojans equalized with a field goal to send the game into overtime. However, Ehlinger fumbled the ball in the second overtime period, allowing USC to win on a second field goal.[14] His 298-yard passing effort was the second-most by a true freshman in university history.[12]

A healthy Buechele reclaimed the starting quarterback role against the Iowa State Cyclones to open Big 12 Conference play, though Ehlinger did not take any snaps despite Buechele suffering an ankle injury during the subsequent victory.[15] However, given the severity of Buechele's injury, Ehlinger started at quarterback for the Longhorns against the Kansas State Wildcats, leading Texas to a 40–34 double overtime victory. His 30 completions, 50 passing attempts, 380 passing yards, and 107 rushing yards marked personal highs for 2017. The 380 passing yards were the most by a true freshman at Texas and the tenth most of any quarterback at the school, while the 487 total yardage was the third most in school history. Ehlinger was named the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week for his efforts against Kansas State.[12] He continued to serve as Texas' starting quarterback for his first Red River Rivalry game against the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners on October 14. In the rivalry matchup, the Longhorns trailed the Sooners 0–20 in the second quarter before amassing a 24–23 lead in the fourth quarter following an 8-yard rushing touchdown by Ehlinger; however, Texas was unable to secure the lead, and a final attempt to score ended when Ehlinger threw the ball out of bounds on fourth-and-13, resulting in a 24–29 loss.[16] Ehlinger finished the game having passed for 278 yards and rushed for 106 yards, making him the first freshman quarterback in school history to rush for over 100 yards in back-to-back games.[12] During the fourth quarter of the game, Ehlinger briefly laid motionless following a hard tackle, sitting out a subsequent play to undergo concussion protocol before later returning to the field. Although Ehlinger stated in the post-game press conference that he "felt fine" and "wasn't ever confused where [he] was at all," Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy co-founder Christopher Nowinski expressed skepticism on Twitter that concussion protocol was properly followed.[17] Ehlinger maintained the starting quarterback role in a 10–13 double overtime loss to a top-10 Oklahoma State Cowboys team, completing 22 of 36 passes for 241 yards but throwing a game-ending interception in the endzone during overtime to solidify the loss.[12][18] Following the game, he showed concussion symptoms that would place him in concussion protocol,[19] with a healing Buechele slotted into the starting quarterback role;[20] Ehlinger did not travel with the team for their 38–7 away victory the following week over the Baylor Bears.[21]

Ehlinger was available to play against the TCU Horned Frogs, with coach Herman indicating that "[Shane Buechele, Sam Ehlinger, and Jerrod Heard] are probably going to play at one point or another."[22] However, an inner ear issue sidelined Ehlinger for the game.[23] He was cleared to play against the Kansas Jayhawks the following week,[24] serving as a backup quarterback and completing two passes and scoring one touchdown in the fourth quarter in the Longhorns' victory.[25] He did not start at quarterback against the 24th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers but assumed the role after two offensive series, throwing for two touchdowns as well as recording a 23-yard catch from Jerrod Heard in the 28–14 win.[26] However, one throw was also intercepted 94 yards for a touchdown. With both Ehlinger and Buechele healthy and having started games for Texas, Herman publicly announced early that Ehlinger would start for the Longhorns against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, an unusual departure of protocol from previous games.[27] Although he played well for much of the game in maintaining a lead for the Longhorns, Ehlinger threw an interception that was returned 55 yards in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, eventually setting up a go-ahead touchdown from Texas Tech. Ehlinger threw a second interception on Texas' final offensive opportunity to reclaim the lead, resulting in a 23–27 loss to end the regular season.[28]

Although Ehlinger received the starting nod against Texas Tech over a healthy Buechele, their performances were not sufficiently separable to declare a longer-term starting quarterback, resulting in the two evenly splitting practices in the lead-up to the 2017 Texas Bowl against the Missouri Tigers.[29] Buechele would eventually be prioritized for the bowl game, with Herman and Beck citing concerns over Ehlinger's protection of the football as a deciding factor.[30] During the Texas Bowl, Ehlinger saw play as quarterback for part of the first half and much of the second half due to Buechele suffering a groin injury, leading the Longhorns to a 33–16 victory completing 11 of 15 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.[12][31] With the win, Ehlinger finished the season with a 2–4 record as a starter with playing time in nine total games;[12] he was also the team's leading passer and rusher by yardage.[4]

2018 season

Division I FBS Touchdown Leaders in 2018[32]
Player Team Passing
TDs
Rushing
TDs
Total
TDs
Kyler Murray Oklahoma 42 12 54
Dwayne Haskins Ohio State 50 4 54
D'Eriq King Houston 36 14 50
Tua Tagovailoa Alabama 43 5 48
Taylor Cornelius Oklahoma State 32 10 42
Gardner Minshew Washington State 38 4 42
Sam Ehlinger Texas 25 16 41
Cole McDonald Hawaii 36 4 40
Will Grier West Virginia 37 3 40
Jordan Love Utah State 32 7 39

At the start of spring practice in 2018, the starting quarterback role for the Texas Longhorns remained unclear. Both Ehlinger and Buechele remained the primary candidates for the position, alongside newly recruited quarterbacks Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson.[33] During the spring game, Ehlinger served as quarterback for the White team, throwing for 151 yards and a touchdown and leading both squads with 29 rushing yards on four carries.[34][35] Despite not being officially named as the starting quarterback, Ehlinger appeared to edge out the other quarterbacks following spring practice, having improved substantially in the speed of his throws.[36] In May, Athlon Sports named him as the fourth best quarterback in the Big 12 Conference.[37] On August 20, coach Herman announced that Ehlinger would be the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Maryland Terrapins, lauding his improvements in throwing the football and his pocket presence.[38][39] The Longhorns would lose to the Terrapins for the second straight year in a 29–34 loss on September 1. Ehlinger completed 21 of 39 passes for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns but threw two costly interceptions late in the fourth quarter, ensuring a Terrapins victory.[40] Coach Herman expressed continued confidence in Ehlinger in the starting role despite the disappointing performance to close out the loss to Maryland, iterating that he did not doubt the quarterback's skills.[41] Against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane the following week, Ehlinger threw for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns with an additional rushing touchdown, helping to stave off a resurgent performance from the Golden Hurricane to win 28–21.[12][42] He led the Longhorns to a 37–14 win over the #24 USC Trojans to close out out-of-conference play, throwing for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns in addition to rushing for 35 yards and a touchdown.[43][12]

Ehlinger put up similar numbers against the 17th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs to open conference play on September 22 as he did against USC, going 22–32 for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns in the air with an additional rushing touchdown to propel the Longhorns to a 31–16 victory.[44][12] His passing numbers moved him past his high school coach Todd Dodge in terms of career passing yardage for the Texas Longhorns, and Ehlinger became the first Longhorns quarterback since Colt McCoy's 2008 season to post three consecutive games with at least two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.[45] Ehlinger also became the first quarterback in school history to start a season with at least four consecutive games with over 200 yards passing and multiple touchdowns per game.[12] His performance against TCU was also recognized in the Davey O'Brien Award's "Great 8" for the week.[46] On October 7, Ehlinger completed a career-high 80.6 percent of his passes on a 207-yard passing effort and one touchdown, as well as making two receptions for 24 receiving yards in a 19–14 win at Kansas State.[47]

On October 6, Ehlinger led the Longhorns to a 48–45 upset victory against the #7 Oklahoma Sooners and accounted for 386 total yards and five touchdowns.[48] Of those five touchdowns, three were rushing touchdowns—both statistics were career highs for Ehlinger and the five total touchdowns were the most by a Texas quarterback in the history of the Red River Rivalry.[49][50] He also broke the school record set by Major Applewhite for consecutive passes without an interception.[49] Ehlinger's efficient performance in the pivotal rivalry game attracted widespread praise. Following the game, FOX analyst and former quarterback Matt Leinart stated that Ehlinger "became [a legend] today."[51] Ehlinger was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week,[50] the Walter Camp Award Offensive Player of the Week, the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Player of the Week, the Maxwell Award Player of the Week, and was listed on the Davey O’Brien Award’s “Great 8” for the second time in 2018.[52] The next week against the Baylor Bears, he was injured on the first drive of the game after he suffered a separated shoulder after throwing for five times and rushing twice.[53][47] An MRI scan would later confirm the injury as a grade I AC sprain.[54] A break in play afforded by a bye gave Ehlinger more time to recover, allowing him to start at quarterback against Oklahoma State on October 27.[55][56] In Stillwater, Oklahoma, Ehlinger scored four total touchdowns and threw for 283 yards, narrowing a 17-point halftime deficit that ended in a 35–38 loss.[57] A second consecutive loss followed the next week against West Virginia, though Ehlinger recorded an efficient performance with 354 yards through the air—a season high—and three passing touchdowns in addition to a rushing touchdown in the 41–42 loss.[47]

The Longhorns ended the two-game losing skid with a 41–34 win against rivals Texas Tech on November 10 with Ehlinger throwing for a career-high 4 touchdowns with 312 passing yards, including a 29-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Lil'Jordan Humphrey with 21 seconds remaining.[47][58] By the end of the game, Ehlinger had attempted 280 passes without an interception, breaking former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith's Big 12 record streak of 273 passes set in 2012.[59] For his performance, Ehlinger was named as one of eight Manning Award Stars of the Week,[60] while his overall performance in the season named him a semifinalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award.[61] He completed 12 passes for 137 yards with a passing touchdown and rushing touchdown in the first half of the game against the Iowa State Cyclones before a tackle late in the second quarter aggravated the AC sprain suffered against Baylor, sidelining him for the rest of the game.[62][47] However, he was cleared shortly after to play in the final regular season game against the Kansas Jayhawks where he threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in a 24–17 victory.[63][47] Ehlinger threw two interceptions during the game, ending his streak of pass attempts without an interception at 308.[64] Despite being cleared for injury, Ehlinger noted that the shoulder injury "was bothering him" in the game against Kansas, though coach Herman predicted that Ehlinger would recover in time for the 2018 Big 12 Championship Game.[65]

In the conference title game against the Oklahoma Sooners on December 1, Ehlinger threw for 349 yards, passed for two touchdowns, and rushed for two touchdowns in a 27–39 loss.[47] In the post-game press conference, Ehlinger asserted that he "would make it my mission to never let [the Longhorns] or [the University of Texas] feel this disappointment again," a sentiment that drew comparisons to a famous speech given by Tim Tebow following a loss to Ole Miss in 2008.[66][67][68] Ahead of the 2019 Sugar Bowl matchup against the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs at the New Orleans Saints' Superdome, Ehlinger wore Saints quarterback Drew Brees's high school jersey when arriving to the stadium, having attended the same high school.[69] Ehlinger would lead the Longhorns to a 28–21 victory over the Bulldogs at the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2019, despite entering the game as 13.5-point underdogs.[70] He threw for 169 yards but was most impactful in the rushing game, where he ran 21 times for 64 yards and 3 touchdowns;[47] for his performance, he was named the game's MVP.[70] The three rushing touchdowns tied the Sugar Bowl record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, while the 16 total rushing touchdowns accumulated by Ehlinger over the season broke the school record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a single season set by Donnie Wigginton in 1971 and Vince Young in 2004. Ehlinger's seasonal touchdown effort also made him the sixth Power 5 quarterback in the previous two decades to throw for over 25 touchdowns and run for more than 15 in a single season, joining five Heisman Trophy winners.[71]

2019 season

On the heels of a strong sophomore campaign, Ehlinger was named one of the early favorites to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy in December 2018.[72] The Dallas Morning News considered him the best quarterback in the Big 12 Conference entering the 2019 season.[73]

Records

  • University of Texas – Most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, season (16, 2018)
  • Big 12 – Most consecutive pass attempts without an interception (308, 2018)

Statistics

Updated through December 31, 2019 [47]
Texas Longhorns
Season GP Passing Rushing
Cmp Att Pct Yds TD Int RAT Att Yds Avg TD
2017 9 158 275 57.5 1,915 11 7 124.1 114 381 3.3 2
2018 14 275 425 64.7 3,292 25 5 146.8 164 482 2.9 16
2019 13 296 454 65.2 3,663 32 10 151.8 163 663 4.1 7
Totals 36 729 1,154 63.2 8,870 68 22 143.4 441 1,530 3.5 25

References

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External links