Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger saw his fair share of playing time as a freshman in 2017. He led the Longhorns to a 56-0 victory over San Jose State in his debut last September, but injuries kept him from likely reaching his full potential over the course of the fall.
Fast forward to 2018, and Ehlinger has been projected by some to excel this fall if he wins the starting quarterback job and can stay healthy all season. But not everyone is buying the excitment around the Austin, Texas native who played at nearby Westlake High School.
247Sports’ Sam Hellman included Ehlinger on his list of the “top 20 elite palyers who may be overhyped” heading into the 2018 campaign. Ehlinger was joined by Oklahoma tight end Grant Calcaterra from the Big 12 on the list.
Here’s what Hellman had to say regarding the potentially unwarratned praise that Ehlinger has received:
“Before Sam Ehlinger lives up to the high-level projections from outlets like Athlon and Pro Football Focus, the Texas gunslinger has to win the job. As recently as May 10, coach Tom Herman was excited about an even battle between Ehlinger and Shane Buechele for the starting job this season. Ehlinger got off to a solid start last season with the Longhorns, but was never quite the same after a mid-season concussion opened the door for Buechele.”
To Hellman’s point about the competition, Herman even recently challenged Buechele — a rising junior — “to be the conductor on offense” for Texas this fall. If he succeeds, we may not even see Ehlinger under center on Saturdays in 2018.
Even if Ehlinger does win the battle, his stats from 2017 were far from blowing fans and media members out of the water. Ehlinger passed for 1,915 yards and 11 touchdown passes across nine games played, but was also intercepted 7 times. His freshman season was also impeded by a hit during the Oklahoma game which put him in concussion protocol.
Texas will open the 2017 season on Sept. 1 vs. Maryland for a second straight year — this time in Landover, Md. The Longhorns also face USC once again, ableit this time on home turf, just one week before hosting 2017 Big 12 runner up TCU. Alas, if Ehlinger turns out to be the one “conducting” the offense, Longhorns fans should have a good sense of his true ability come the end of September.