When you open up the dictionary and you look up the word competitor, you will see a picture of Austin Westlake quarterback Sam Ehlinger. While you’re at it, flip over and look up the word leader, because you will find a picture of his face there as well.
I’ve the chance to watch Ehlinger in person three times and I saw him throw multiple times this offseason at various camps. It didn’t take very long for the Austin native to make me a believer. After watching him lead his team to a win over Southlake Carroll, it was very evident to me that Ehlinger was criminally underrated by the recruiting networks. As the season continued, Ehlinger absolutely did it all for the Westlake offense as he piled up both yards and touchdowns through the air and on the ground.
Ehlinger threw for almost 4,000 yards and an astonishing 50 touchdowns compared to only 5 interceptions, and he ran for over 1,300 more on the ground and another 20 touchdowns. Over 5,000 yards of offensive production and 70 touchdowns isn’t too shabby for a guy that was initially ranked as a three star. Ehlinger’s stellar junior season included the early season win over Southlake Carroll, a playoff win over Allen which snapped their 57 game win streak, a berth in the state championship game where they came up just short of a state championship against North Shore.
Knowing what kind of competitor Ehlinger is, coming up short in the state championship game no doubt left a bitter taste in his mouth. Ehlinger worked hard all offseason and he was rewarded with a trip to Oregon as part of the Elite 11 competition, which required a trip to Los Angeles to even earn that invite to The Opening. After much anticipation, Ehlinger and Chaps kicked off their 2016 campaign with a bang by knocking off the defending state champion Katy Tigers last week. Ehlinger accounted for over 300 total yards of offense and added yet another impressive win to his already stout resume. Katy’s defense posted 10 shutouts during their historical state title run last year, and their loss against Westlake was their first since 2014.
What makes Ehlinger’s performance against the Tigers even more impressive is the fact that he was able to pull it off with not one, but two injuries to his knees. It was revealed after the conclusion of the game that Ehlinger suffered meniscus tears in both of his knees, and despite obviously being hobbled he never removed himself from the game. Having suffered a couple knee injuries myself, including a meniscus tear in my left knee, I know it is very uncomfortable and to think that Ehlinger was able to continue on and finish the task at hand is commendable. It continues to add to the legend of Sam Ehlinger as he continues to take aim at the likes of Drew Brees and Nick Foles in the Westlake high school books.
Unlike with Brees or Foles, the Longhorns garnered Ehlinger’s commitment early on in the process and allowed him to live a lifelong dream of playing his collegiate ball in Austin. Not only has Ehlinger been getting it done on the field, but he has also been Texas’ biggest recruiter since his commitment, and he has been taking dead aim at some of the best players in the entire state. Ehlinger has put his recruiting cap firmly on, as he sets his sights on the likes of JK Dobbins, Omar Manning, and Baron Browning. If Ehlinger is successful on getting guys like Dobbins, Manning, and Browning to join him in Austin, something tells me it won’t be much longer before Texas gets back to the standard their fans are accustomed to.