Just as it was at the beginning of the 2017 season, the Texas Longhorns enter the offseason without a definitive starting quarterbacks.
An injury plagued position saw sophomore Shane Buechele and freshman Sam Ehlinger exchange starts throughout the season, with the latter earning six during his debut season in Austin. While Ehlinger certainly had his share of costly freshman mistakes, which cost the Horns potential wins over No. 10 Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Austin native also flashed plenty of promise, which has many agreeing that Ehlinger is the future of the position for Texas.
Chad Reuter of NFL.com echoed those sentiments, as he placed Ehlinger at No. 14 among college football’s freshman phenoms, which was the highest-rank of any Big 12 talent.
“Ehlinger has the talent to be one of the top quarterbacks in college football,” Reuter said. “He’ll face a challenge from Shane Buechele for the starting job in 2018, but as you can see, I think Ehlingher has the edge. While he’s not the biggest offensive playmaker, he’s a tough-minded, mobile passer who can beat defenses in multiple ways. His growth should be fun to watch over the next couple of years.”
As noted, Ehlinger started six games for Texas as a freshman — San Jose State, USC, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Ehlinger started the year at 2-1 as a starter, but struggled down the stretch, finishing with a 2-4 record as the first-team gunslinger. Prior to suffering concussion late in Texas’ overtime loss to Oklahoma State, Ehlinger nearly guided the Horns to wins over the Trojans and Sooners, sparking much of the hype that exists today surrounding his future in Austin.
And much more recently, with Texas appearing in its first bowl game since 2013, Ehlinger didn’t start, but he finished the game for Longhorns in what became a 33-16 Texas Bowl victory over Missouri.
Now, after leading the Longhorns with 385 rushing yards and 1,915 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air, another offseason of development could be the key to Ehlinger taking control of the offense in Austin. If that proves true, it could be special for the burnt orange nation because as Reuter noted, “Ehlinger has the talent to be one of the top quarterbacks in college football.”