The flurry of early quarterback pledges in a deep group of 2017 prospects continued on Tuesday evening when Austin Westlake's Sam Ehlinger announced his commitment to the Texas Longhorns via Twitter.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong followed with his signature tweet not long after:
Got some very exciting news for the future of the program! #LetsRide— Charlie Strong (@Strong_TexasFB) July 28, 2015
Offered at the Under the Lights camp just a little more than a week ago following a strong performance, Ehlinger joins other 2017 star passers like Denton Guyer's Shawn Robinson (TCU), San Antonio Reagan's Kellen Mond (Baylor), and Mesquite Horn's Chris Robison (Oklahoma) in making decisions long before National Signing Day 2017.
So other than the fact that quarterback is always one of the most important positions in any class, landing the hometown prospect was key because the number of uncommitted options were quickly dwindling. And he was clearly a key target -- despite showing interest in Mond and Refugio athlete Jaylon Mascorro, Ehlinger was only the second quarterback in the country to pick up a Horns offer in the 2017 class.
Ehlinger made his interest in the program clear to assistant head coach for the offense/quarterback coach Shawn Watson by camping at Texas in June for the Elite Quarterback Academy and working out at Under the Lights, as well as taking an unofficial visit on June 23.
Considered a consensus three-star prospect by the services, Ehlinger is the No. 340 player overall, the No. 11 dual-threat quarterback, and the No. 47 player in Texas, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. He also held offers from Houston and SMU. Those two schools are hardly traditional recruiting powers, but if Tom Herman and Chad Morris think that Ehlinger can play, they're probably right based on their respective track records at the position.
As a first-year starter in 2014, Ehlinger threw for 2,300 yards and 24 touchdowns while adding 722 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
At 6'1 and 207 pounds, Ehlinger doesn't have ideal size for the position, but already has significant physical mass and strength for his size -- he's around the same height as 2016 pledge Shane Buechele, but much more stout. Since he completed nearly 66% of his passes as a sophomore and had a solid interception rate of 2.2%, he's both accurate and capable of making strong decisions.
The deep ball down the sidelines is one of the his strengths, as he has the arm to push the ball vertically down the field and the touch to consistently hit his receivers in stride. There's even some toughness on display, as he is willing to stand in the pocket and deliver passes even if he's about to get hit. Mechanically, he looks sound, as he has an ideal high release point, ties his feet to his eyes, and transfers his weight consistently to ensure that his lower body aids his upper body.
With a verified 40-yard dash of 4.98 seconds, Ehlinger isn't a remarkably explosive athlete, but his ability to rack up over 700 rushing yards is a testament to his speed in pads and willingness to scramble when necessary.
Ehlinger is the second pledge in the 2017 class for head coach Charlie Strong, joining Tyler John Tyler wide receiver Damion Miller. The two commitments are good enough to slot the Horns at No. 14 nationally in the Composite team rankings.
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