BEVO BEAT Football

The Texas 22: Starting at quarterback — Sam Ehlinger

The kinetic freshman made costly mistakes late in losses against USC, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Freshman hiccups — or, perhaps, valuable learning experiences?

Posted August 22nd, 2018

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We’re breaking down what we think will be Texas’ starting lineup. We’re doing two a day, one offensive and one defensive player, in alphabetical order on both sides.

Sam Ehlinger

Sophomore quarterback, 6-3, 235

High school: Westlake

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Signing class: 2017

Career games: 9

Career starts: 6

Career numbers: 1,915 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and 7 interceptions; 385 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns

Who he was — before Texas

Ehlinger, who was named the starter on Monday, was born to lead the Longhorns. The Westlake star committed to Texas before his senior season and remained pledged to the Longhorns when Tom Herman took over the job.

Westlake’s Sam Ehlinger (4) gets his team excited before their game at Lake Travis on Oct. 7, 2016 (Elizabeth Kreutz/ for American-Statesman)

Ehlinger suffered through injuries as a senior, playing in just four games and recording 907 yards and seven touchdowns. He was a four-star recruit who ranked 14th on the 2017 Fabulous 55.

His junior season put Ehlinger on the recruiting map. He earned an invitation to The Opening Final and was a member of the Elite 11 — the only quarterback on campus to earn those honors.

Ehlinger led Westlake to the Class 6A Division I state championship game. As a junior, he passed for 50 touchdowns and ran for 20 more. He passed for 4,041 yards and rushed for 1,325.

Who Ehlinger has been here — so far

Ehlinger enrolled early and began competing for starting snaps in the spring of 2017. He played in nine games, starting six, as a freshman. He passed Shane Buechele on the depth chart because of his competitiveness and fit into Herman’s preferred offense. Ehlinger’s ability to run was used in his first season. He was the team’s leading rusher with 385 yards.

Ehlinger completed 57.5 percent of his passes. He finished with 1,915 yards passing and 11 touchdowns. His first career start was in Week 2 against San Jose State. He went 2-4 as a starter, but impressed in road losses against USC and Oklahoma. He started the bowl game, completing 11 of 15 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. His best game came against Kansas State, when he became only the third quarterback in UT history to pass for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100 in the same game.

Texas’ Sam Ehlinger sings the “Eyes of Texas” after the game against Kansas State at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Oct. 7, 2017 in Austin. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Who Texas needs him to be this season

Ehlinger started six games last season but Texas went 2-4 in them. His late-game turnovers against USC, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were awful in the moment, but they could be terrific learning experiences. All young quarterbacks have growing pains, and those might help Ehlinger long-term.

Most opponents will zero in on Ehlinger’s hard-charging running style. He led the team in rushing last season averaging about 3.4 yards per carry. He got tackled hard against Oklahoma but returned to the game. Ehlinger said his only diagnosed concussion last year came against Oklahoma State.

All Herman wants is someone who will protect the football and move the offense, not necessarily be a hero. If Ehlinger does that, he could be a starter for years to come.

Filling in the lineup

So far …

THE OFFENSE

QB: Former Westlake star Sam Ehlinger was born to lead the Longhorns

RB —

WR —

WR —

WR —

TE: Andrew Beck is eager to return from last year’s injury

LT: Calvin Anderson is back where he started (playing football in Austin)

LG —

C —

RG —

RT —

THE DEFENSE

DE —

DT —

DL —

DE —

LB —

LB —

LB —

CB: Kris Boyd: Is the former Gilmer star ready to be UT’s alpha corner?

CB: Davante Davis gives Texas experience at the corner spot

NB —

S —

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