Despite no QB battle, Ehlinger hasn’t stopped competing

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For his first two preseason camps as a Longhorn, junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger took part in a heated competition for the starting role. Ehlinger lost the preseason battle in 2017 to Shane Buechele before trading starts for the remainder of Texas head coach Tom Herman’s first season.

In 2018, Ehlinger won a four-man competition before a 10-win season that made him a household name in college football. 

Now, prior to his third season, Ehlinger is cemented as the Longhorns’ quarterback. This is his first college camp without a competition for the starting role. Despite no battle for his spot, Ehlinger hasn’t stopped doing what originally won him the job in the first place.

“That guy wakes up competing,” Herman said Saturday. “He’s got two speeds: off and full. He’s usually full. I haven’t noticed any difference in him other than a continued development.”

That competitive gene hasn’t just manifested itself during camp. Ehlinger said Thursday he threw five times per week during the summer. Prior to his sophomore year, he would experience shoulder soreness and had to take a backseat to Buechele for certain portions of practice. 

His summer repetitions made sure that wasn’t an issue for this camp. When asked what mark he would give for throwing the football, Ehlinger gave himself an 8 out of 10.

“I’ve been consistent with my throws,” Ehlinger said. “That’s taking every rep. I haven’t had any soreness at all. That’s helped contribute to increased accuracy.”

Ehlinger’s ability within the offense is part of why Herman has proclaimed the offense the winner of each of the two preseason scrimmages. It’s also a big reason why Ehlinger’s found himself on several preseason award watchlists.

But that’s not enough for Ehlinger.

“I wouldn’t give myself a 10 in anything,” he said. 

After giving himself an eight in throwing the football, Ehlinger declined to give a specific number when asked about his leadership. Ehlinger has said dating back to the spring that the 2019 Longhorns aren’t his team, but rather “our team.” 

Though he’s quick to give credit to others, eyes turn toward team leadership in adverse situations. Herman has said several times Ehlinger is a guy he would want in his “foxhole.” During this camp, Ehlinger is trying to make sure more are able to join him.

“Leadership, I think everybody’s done a great collective job of bringing everybody together and buying in the culture, understanding what it’s going to take, pushing through the heat, and pushing through the adversity,” Ehlinger said. “That’s real stuff, and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that.”

Herman said Saturday that like many college teams, each day new day of practice is starting to become like Groundhog Day for the Longhorns. The monotony of day after day in the Texas heat can be tough to manage for both coaches and players.

“I had to tell Keaontay (Ingram) to stop jogging today,” Ehlinger said. “He’s going to be okay.”

That monotony hasn’t stopped Ehlinger from becoming a better quarterback and becoming one of Texas’ team leaders.