FootballFootball Recruiting

The significance of the Ehlinger signing

Sam Ehlinger after signing with Texas (Julianna Nicks/IT)
Sam Ehlinger after signing with Texas (Julianna Nicks/IT)

I thought Ehlinger’s signing was worthy of some focus since it is my estimation that Texas just signed the best QB in the class, the best QB they’ve signed in perhaps a decade, and the perfect trigger-man for Tom Herman’s offense.

Back in the day when he verbally committed I broke down Ehlinger’s game in this post. I see him as a Tebow-esque, fullback-style runner…

…with capabilities in the passing game more akin to Colt McCoy…

He may not be quite as good in either regard as those players (or he might be), but the way he combines those skill sets makes for something pretty special.

A few months later I talked about how that might fit with Texas’ other targets for the 2017 class. I went ahead and used Westlake and smashmouth spread concepts to illustrate my points. I also drew formations more commonly found from a Herman-style team than a Veer and Shoot team because even back then it was evident that Ehlinger was just as likely to be coached by Herman as he was by Gilbert. Additionally, Ehlinger’s skill set screams for a certain deployment so even Gilbert would have had to adjust to make the most of his talent.

As member Halas noted early on, one of the most important skill sets that you need in Herman’s offense is someone who can run between the tackles. With the spread offense in general, you need a QB that can constrain the defense by distributing the ball where the offense is at advantage, including on the perimeter or deep. Ehlinger can literally do all of these things from the QB position.

In a team sport, we should really assign more value to players that are easy to build an effective team concept around then guys who excel in limited roles. The guy who can do one thing and one thing only may look amazing if he has the right surrounding personnel but he can just as easily hold the team back if the players around him can’t cover for his weaknesses.

The more strengths a player has, the more he can allow his teammates to have weaknesses and shortcomings and the more easy he makes it for his coordinator to surround him with specialists. Ehlinger is a versatile player who’s going to make it very easy to build an offense around because of all the strengths he brings to the table as a runner, decision maker, pocket-passer, and improv artist creating off schedule.

He’s going to be a Longhorn, let’s celebrate!

Here are quotes from Ehlinger from his signing ceremony – JC

On officially signing with Texas: “It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I can remember. I’ve always wanted to go to the University of Texas. To have that opportunity, words can’t describe it.”

On his meeting with Tom Herman:
“It was great. It was the first time I really had talked to him. I talked to him at Houston because he had offered me. It was really the first time I sat down with him and got to know him. He said me in his offense is going to be scary. It’s going to scare the nation. I’m hoping that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

On the coaching at Texas:
“It’s great to know when coaches believe in you and give you a chance to play for their program. Obviously, I would love for Coach Strong to have been my coach because he’s the one who originally offered me at UT, but to have the chance to have a coach that also offered me at another school is really cool.”

On his love for Texas:
“Growing up, both my parents went there. Growing up in Austin, growing up in DKR, that was exactly what I did every weekend. That’s what I looked forward to. It was always UT football, always UT athletics, always UT sports. When I had the opportunity to continue that and play for them, I couldn’t go anywhere else.”

On committing before his junior season and influence of Westlake head coach Todd Dodge:
“I think it helped to have such a great head coach who had been through it and has played for Texas. He really could help me stay focused on what was at task, what was right in front of me, and that was the Westlake football team. To be able to accomplish and make it to the state championship with that team and beat the teams that we did, it was really up to Coach Dodge.”

On dealing with setbacks he’s faced senior year:
“Every year you look forward to your senior year because you know that’s going to be your best year. Everyone’s saying ‘oh, wait until my senior year. I’ll be really good.’ Obviously I never really got the chance to prove that. It helped me grow off the field though through leadership abilities I’m going to take through my life. You can look at it negatively and you can look at it positively. I’m deciding to look at it positively and say, hey, I’ve got the ability to lead off the field and on the field.”

On memorable HS games:
“We had exit interviews today with Coach Dodge and that was one of the questions. I said the Allen game was one of the best memories, just beating a team that won 57 games in a row, three state championships, and stopping them short of their fourth. That was great. Another memory was beating Southlake last year. Coach Dodge, that was where he won four state championships so it was a big deal for him.”

On talking to La Grange RB JK Dobbins:
“I’ve been friends with JK for a while. We hung out a lot at The Opening. I’m always in his ear.”

On teammate Levi Jones:
“I don’t know where he’s going and I don’t think he does either. He’s going to end up making the best decision for himself. He’s going to end up at a very great program.”

On enrolling early:
“I sat down with Coach Watson. He said the only quarterback I’ve had that enrolled early was Teddy Bridgewater. I said OK, I’d love to be like him. I thought that was a great idea just to get in. Nothing good happens when you aren’t doing anything. Second semester of high school, I’m not with the football team and I’m not in an offseason program. Why not do the spring over there and have a chance to compete and be with the players?”

On his health:
“My wrist will be good here in about three weeks. Before I step on campus I’ll have the cast off and my wrist will be ready to go.”

On competing as a freshman:
“You look at Alabama. The best program in the nation can start a true freshman and lead them to the national championship. I’m glad that puts no doubt in people’s mind that true freshmen can do what senior quarterbacks can do.”

On his relationship with Shane Buechele:
“I’m good friends with him. Every time I’m on campus, he’s always very polite and very nice. We have good talks after the games, like ‘great job or you did a really good job.’ We’ll talk about plays to everything. He’s a really good guy and I really appreciate what he’s done for me. When I committed, he texted me right away and said ‘hey man, congratulations. Start recruiting your butt off and make sure you get a good recruiting class.’ After I got bumped up in the rankings, when I was bumped up to the No. 3 quarterback in the nation, he was like ‘finally they woke up. Congrats, I can’t wait to have you here.’ He’s been really nice throughout the process and I look forward to competing against him.”

On his fit in Herman’s offense:
“He likes to have dual threat guys. He knows when the quarterback can run, it puts more pressure on the defense. His point was we’re going to put more pressure on the defense with the ability of your running, and making sure they account for you.”

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History major, football theorist.