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Super Sam Ehlinger Leads University Of Texas To Brink Of Victory Against Oklahoma

Updated on October 16, 2017

Super Sam Ehlinger Shown With Dad And Mother With Brother And Sister

Texas Quarterback Sam Ehlinger shown growing up with family.  Father Ross tragically died before getting to see Sam (right) play for the Longhorns.
Texas Quarterback Sam Ehlinger shown growing up with family. Father Ross tragically died before getting to see Sam (right) play for the Longhorns.

Freshman Sam Ehlinger Leads Longhorns From 20-0 Deficit To Near Triumph

With his mother rooting him on from the sunlit stands of the Cotton Bowl, freshman gunslinger Sam Ehlinger engineered a comeback which actually had the Burnt Orange in the lead at 24-23 in the fourth quarter in a game televised nationally on ESPN television. Worried looks were pasted across the faces of Sooner fans as Texas stormed to that lead for the first time in the game behind the running and passing of the freshman phenomenon.

At times resembling a running back, Ehlinger ran over and around OU tacklers as he repeatedly led the Austin contingent up and down the field. When receivers were open downfield he connected with them on pinpoint passing.

The emotional backstory to this game was that both Sam's parents graduated from the University of Texas. He always dreamed as a youth growing up in Austin of playing for the 'Horns. His dad was his top mentor during the early years, showing him how to play the game and work hard doing it.

When his dad drowned during the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon, his mentor was gone. But his mother was still there Saturday afternoon on a hot October day, visibly rooting her son on through the good,...and yes, even the bad plays.

Oklahoma had the experience advantage as fifth year senior quarterback Baker Mayfield pulled the victory out with a 59- yard touchdown pass to tight end Mark Andrews with less than eight minutes left in the game. The game-winning play occurred when Andrews and another Crimson receiver crossed their patterns on the right side of the field, leaving Andrews wide open.

The Heisman candidate quarterback Mayfield then lofted a perfect pass into Andrews' waiting arms as he ran alone along the sideline. No one was near him as he ran into the end zone with game-winning points.

Ehlinger-Mayfield Quarterback Duel One Of Best In The Land

The 29-24 victory for Oklahoma undeniably helped Mayfield's Heisman Trophy hopes as his team won. The former Texas Tech quarterback completed 17 of 27 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Those are the kinds of numbers that win a Heisman Trophy. A graduate of Lake Travis High School in Austin, Mayfield walked on at Tech when he wasn't offered a scholarship. He had an excellent season during a year on the plains of North Texas, but his coach demoted him to the bench. He opted to transfer to Oklahoma, leading to this year's dramatic season which has his team in the thick of a national championship race with only one loss.

However, Ehlinger, who graduated from Austin Westlake High School, was not outplayed by his older rival on this steamy day. In only his fourth career collegiate start, the freshman completed 19 of 39 passes for 278 yards. He also ran for 106 yards which adds another dimension to the Texas offense.

Texas Coach Tom Herman praised his quarterback's performance as did the Oklahoma coaching staff. Herman previously coach another outstanding dual threat quarterback J.T. Barrett, from Wichita Falls Rider High School in North Texas. Barrett is currently breaking passing and running records for Ohio State University in the Big 10.

The thrilling duel between the two former Austin high school quarterbacks was one of the best in the nation yesterday (Saturday). While Mayfield played in his last episode of the Red River Rivalry, Ehlinger will have three more years to take on the rivals from north of the Red River.

Oklahoma Coach Praises Ehlinger

Oklahoma defensive coach Mike Stoops said, "I love the kid. We look forward to facing him the next three years. He has it all, he's a guy you can build a team around."

Herman, who led the Ohio State offense a few years ago, directed Barrett and the Buckeyes to the Big 10 championship and then a national championship. His future at UT looks bright as one looks down the road. He accrued one of the top five recruiting classes in the nation for 2018. The ability to recruit, plus Herman's previous resume as quarterbacks coach at OSU and then head coach at the University of Houston, would seem to indicate a national championship is not that far away from the Steers' grasp.

Herman said of his team Saturday, "To be down 20-0 against one of the best teams in the country......and then take the lead in the fourth quarter says a lot about this team and where we're headed."

Mayfield And Ehlinger In Classic Battle

Jake Trotter, writer for ESPN, described the riveting duel betwen Ehlinger and Mayfield. He wrote as follows: "Mayfield and Ehlinger trading body blows. This is fun."

Story Of Sam Ehlinger Emotional Backstory

The incredible Ehlinger family story is the type of material which creates legends. Both of Super Sam's parents are graduates of the University of Texas. They both wanted him to play for the Burnt Orange when he was a child. He worked hard under his dad's tutelage throughout his youth to make that dream come true. According to the dream, his parents both would've been sitting in the bleachers Saturday watching their son guide the dramatic Texas comeback. The unexpected death of his father, left only Sam's mom sitting in the stands.

Sam Ehlinger Grew Up AS A UT Fan

Sam Ehlinger was a UT fan even as a child.
Sam Ehlinger was a UT fan even as a child.

Sam Ehlinger With Family On Texas Signing Day

Sam (in front) officially becomes Longhorn.
Sam (in front) officially becomes Longhorn.

Ross Ehlinger Never Saw Slingin' Sam Play At UT

Sam Ehlinger's dad Ross never got to see his boy trot onto the field as the Texas quarterback, according to an ESPN interview. As a sophomore and junior at Westlake High School, he broke records set by his forerunners there Drew Brees and Nick Foles. Brees is currently quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. Foles is also a quarterback in the NFL.

The ESPN reporter who interviewed Sam, said she first met him at his home in late 2013, six months after his father, Ross, perished in the ferocious waves of San Francisco Bay. A respected lawyer, he was a charismatic youth football coach in Austin.

Reporter Bonnie Ford said she was impressed during that initial meeting with Sam. She explained he spoke on that day without any self-pity or drama. He confided to the ESPN journalist that he "thought of his father when he saw a shooting star."

He told another reporter T. J. Quinn on camera for ESPN that, "Definitely there are times when I know Jake's looking, I know that Morgen is watching, and I just have to pull it together, and it's not that bad knwing that I'm kind of replacing him, but there is also no replacement."

His mother Jena Ehlinger, who was in the stands Saturday, tod ESPN that Sam has been "humongous influence" on Jake, now 16 and a budding linebacker. Sister Moren is 13 and hones her basketball skills in the driveway with her brothers.

Westlake coach Todd Dodge played quarterback at the University of Texas. He said that Ehlinger carries himself "with the rare authority that deep perspective brings."

Texas Coach Tom Herman Loves Ehlinger

Texas Coach Tom Herman immediately fell in love with Ehlinger upon meeting him. Herman said, "One is what he's been through in his life, and the fact that he's had to mature at a young age and grow up really fast. He's transitioned or translated that maturity into this really dynamic leadership quality he has. He's an alpha male. He walks in the room, and it's like, 'Whoa, Sam's here' I mean, he's a competitor. I just love that about quarterbacks."

During his junior season at Westlake, he took the Chaparrals all the way to the state championship game while amassing incredible stats. He scored 70 touchdowns and won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award, Herman called that "big time stuff," according to an SB Nation article.

The mature Ehlinger allowed his coach to mispronounce his name without correcting him for two months. Herman didn't realize he was pronouncing the name wrong until he heard his future star introduce himself to someone else.

When asked about it, the freshman said, "Coach, everybody kind of makes that mistake, and I didn't want to upset you."

The correct pronunciation has an emphasis on the first syllable. It's EL-in-gurr.

People around the nation are probably going to become familiar with that pronunciation very soon if the Westlake graduate continues on the path he's begun just a few blocks from the Texas state capitol building.

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