With the spring semester set to begin on Tuesday, Texas Longhorns early enrollees Sam Ehlinger and Toneil Carter are expected on campus on Friday to move into the dorms.
Both have overcome obstacles to arrive in Austin as highly-routed recruits.
Ehlinger, the nation’s No. 4 dual-threat quarterback, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, will make the short journey from Westlake less than two years after the death of his father.
”It’s definitely a big step,” Ehlinger recently told Burnt Orange Nation. “Life hits everyone at some point. It’s a big transition — not living with my family and growing up. But I’ve always kind of been independent since my dad died. I’ve had the independent feeling before so it’s not as big for me.”
Carter, the nation’s No. 7 running back, comes from a much more challenging background, growing up in the projects of the Third Ward in New Orleans before being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
After moving to Houston, Carter lost his mother to cancer in 2009 and was raised by his older brother, who was the first member of the extended Carter family to graduate from high school.
And yet, despite all those factors working against the 5’10.5, 197-pounder, Carter didn’t just graduate from high school, he did so a semester early to continue his promising football career.
Even then, things didn’t go smoothly for Carter — set to move to Athens, Georgia didn’t end up having a spot for him due to the return of both star running backs, Nick Chubb and Sony Michels. So Carter decommitted and pledged to the Longhorns, becoming the first big pledge of the Tom Herman era at Texas.
In recent weeks, he’s been training hard perfecting his footwork:
@CarterToneil— footwork_king (@footwork_king1) January 9, 2017
Running Back@Longhorn_FB committ
Proper preparation for when he arrives in Austin !
# ookEm' pic.twitter.com/1rYYOD4aqr
As a result of that work, it’s quite possible that he could now best the 4.26 shuttle that he ran last spring at the Houston The Opening Regional camp in addition to the 4.56 40-yard dash he ran at that event.
And now he’ll begin the work of competing for playing time following the departure of star running back D’Onta Foreman. If Kirk Johnson isn’t healthy for spring practice, Carter will likely battle for the back-up role to Chris Warren III with Kyle Porter.
The stakes are immediately a bit higher for the 6’1.5, 215-pound Ehlinger — he’ll compete for the starting job with incumbent Shane Buechele. With new head coach Tom Herman installing his offensive system this spring, the two will have a more even playing field adjusting to a scheme that will arguably fit Ehlinger better than Buechele.
When Ehlinger met with Herman for the first time, he sold Ehlinger on his potential at Texas.
“My ability in his offense is going to create something so much bigger than I’ve ever dreamed of.”