Austin Westlake star quarterback Sam Ehlinger turned 18 today, so the Texas Longhorns commit quite literally threw himself a birthday during his return the field against Hays.
"By the end of the first quarter and the second quarter, I felt like I was back into it."
By that point – the end of the first quarter – Ehlinger had already led Westlake to a 30-0 lead behind four touchdown passes.
Ehlinger connects on his 4th TD pass of the 1st quarter. Says "I'm back" as he runs to sideline #HookEm— Cody Daniel (@CodyDanielSBN) October 1, 2016
Based on his performance throughout the first half, considering Westlake was up 44-0 at the intermission and Ehlinger enjoyed the view from the sideline for the final two quarters, it was nearly impossible to tell he was fresh off of two fairly significant knee injuries. After missing a month of action, Ehlinger returned with the same pocket presence, playmaking ability, awareness, and most importantly, the confidence that’s made the future Longhorn one of the top quarterbacks in the country.
"I feel great," Ehlinger said. "I've never felt better. I think the rest really helped. I don't think I've rested like I did in the past 10 years."
Despite the much-needed rest, Ehlinger’s excitement of being back with his team for a convincing win over Hays with the second half of the season looming was evident.
"It's awesome," Ehlinger said. "It was killing me not being able to go out there and ball with them, but they did a great job of improving while I was out and now that I'm back, they're better than ever."
Now that he’s back and his Chaparrals are 5-1, is Westlake the team to beat in Texas?
"Westlake is always the team to beat."
Ehlinger said he could have returned to the field last week, but didn’t for precautionary reasons, largely due to the coaching staff’s decision. Speaking of coaching staffs, Ehlinger said he has been in touch with the Texas coaching staff almost every day and that he was able to speak with the entire offensive coaching staff and Charlie Strong over the phone Thursday night.
Ehlinger also said he is still busy recruiting talent to come play with him at Texas, but told Burnt Orange Nation, “Man, that’s confidential.” He later said he was going after “all the big ones in Texas.”
As for what he expects from the Longhorns Saturday morning in Stillwater, Ehlinger had full confidence that Texas will begin Big 12 play 1-0.
"They're gonna bounce back for sure," Ehlinger said. “I have full confidence in those coaches to rally the team and get them back to where they need to be."
Next up for Ehlinger and Westlake is rival Lake Travis.
"It's always fun competing against Lake Travis," Ehlinger said. "It's two great teams every year, the rivalry is awesome. I have full confidence in our team for this year. The eight games in the past don't matter. It's all about who shows out next Friday night."