The next time that football fans see Sam Ehlinger, he’ll be a Longhorn.
The future for Ehlinger was recognized in a signing ceremony on Westlake’s campus Thursday. Members of the 2017 recruiting class are not allowed to sign a letter of intent until February, but the senior quarterback plans on enrolling at Texas in January.
The son of two Longhorns, Ehlinger has not wavered since he committed to Texas in July 2015.
“I’ve been looking forward to it since I was a little kid,” Ehlinger said. “To get the opportunity to sign with my dream school, there is no better thing that I can imagine.”
Ehlinger was a three-year starter in high school, and he exits Westlake as the school’s all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns. In 2015, Ehlinger guided Westlake to the Class 6A, Division I championship game with 3,833 passing yards, 1,419 rushing yards and 71 total touchdowns (one of which was a catch). For his efforts, he was honored as that year’s Texas APSE player of the year.
“As versatile of a quarterback as has probably been at the University of Texas in some time,” said Westlake coach Todd Dodge, who was himself a Longhorns quarterback from 1982-85. “There’s not really much that you can’t ask Sam to do within any offense. That’s the thing that I think is going to always be his biggest upside.”
Ehlinger began his senior year with much fanfare; he and Dodge appeared on a secondary cover for Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine, considered by some to be the bible for the state’s football fan. He then led the Chaparrals to a 32-29 win over Katy team that won a state title in 2015.
Ehlinger, though, suffered a torn meniscus in that season-opening conquest. The knee injury sidelined him for four weeks, and he broke his thumb in his comeback’s second game. Ehlinger returned for two of Westlake’s playoff games, but his five-game senior season was eventually ended by a wrist injury.
Dodge downplayed the notion that Ehlinger was injury-prone, and classified the injuries as minor setbacks that unfortunately happened in the same season. While he was injured, Ehlinger spent plenty of time in the training room. He also assisted with the coaching of Westlake’s quarterbacks and receivers.
“(He wasn’t) standing over there like a bump on a log during practice like most injured kids do,” Dodge said.
A four-star recruit, Ehlinger will join a Texas team that was directed in 2016 by freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and his 2,958 passing yards. The Longhorns have also extended an offer to Tyler John Tyler’s Bryson Smith, who had been committed to Tom Herman when Texas’ new coach was at Houston.
Ehlinger told reporters on Thursday that he would welcome another quarterback in his signing class. He is looking forward to competing when he gets to Texas.
“If Andrew Luck was at UT, I would compete with him to make him better,” said Ehlinger, who said he was impressed by how Herman’s Houston offense was run. “I want to do anything to compete, and competing is the best thing possible for anyone to get better. Competition is always good, and that’s exactly what I want to have.”
Ehlinger wore a burnt orange hat and a white shirt with a Longhorns logo on Thursday. His siblings also donned Texas apparel. Ehlinger estimated that half of his wardrobe had a Longhorns look, and his mother, Jena, said she had enough Texas-themed clothes in her closet. Ehlinger’s siblings, however, are a different story, although that might be taken care of by the end of the month.
“Our Christmas tree might as well be all orange,” Jena Ehlinger said. “His little brother and sister definitely need a few more items, so (we’re having) an orange Christmas.”