We continue our profiles of 2020 Heisman Trophy candidates with Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who tries to become the first Longhorns signal-caller to win the award.
Does it feel like Sam Ehlinger is about 30 years old and has been the starting quarterback at Texas since 2012? It’s definitely rare to see a four-year starting QB at a Power 5 program these days, but that’s what Ehlinger will be in the 2020 college football season. And for the record, he will be 22 in September. Ehlinger is a +1200 fourth-favorite for the Heisman on BetOnline’s NCAAF odds.
Texas obviously has about as much tradition as any program in the country but has never had a quarterback win the Heisman Trophy.
Vince Young definitely had an argument to win it in the 2005 season but finished a fairly distant second to USC running back Reggie Bush – who later vacated the award. Instead of the NCAA then making Young the official winner, it remains vacated due to Bush’s NCAA violations. Horns QB Colt McCoy finished runner-up to Sam Bradford in 2008 and third the next year.
Texas hasn’t had any player come close to a Heisman since – the school’s two winners are legendary NCAA running backs: Earl Campbell in 1977 and Ricky Williams in 1998. The only way to win a Heisman these days is to play on a national title contender, and Texas hasn’t been that since losing the BCS Championship Game to Alabama following the 2009 season (McCoy got hurt early in that one and that essentially ended any chance the Horns had).
Ehlinger Could Break All School Records In 2020
Ehlinger was a four-star recruit in the Class of 2017 from Texas powerhouse Westlake High School, which is near Austin. While there, Ehlinger broke school records held by Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Drew Brees and Nick Foles. Ehlinger was ranked as the No. 119 player in the country in his class and No. 4 dual-threat quarterback. Tua Tagovailoa was the No. 1 dual-threat QB.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Ehlinger played in nine games with six starts as a true freshman and became the first Longhorn since McCoy in 2008 to lead the program in both passing and rushing in a season. Ehlinger was the eighth true freshman in school history to win at least one game.
As a sophomore in 2018, Ehlinger started all 14 games and was 275-of-425 passing for 3,292 yards and 25 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He set a Big 12 and school record with 308 consecutive passes without an interception at one point. He also rushed for 16 touchdowns, the most ever by a Longhorn quarterback. Texas finished 10-4 with a Sugar Bowl upset of No. 5 Georgia.
Thanks to that win over the Dawgs, expectations were very high for both Texas and Ehlinger in 2019, but the season was a moderate disappointment for the team as UT finished 8-5 – although the Horns played well in losing to No. 6 LSU (45-38) and No. 6 Oklahoma (34-27).
Ehlinger finished 296-of-454 passing for 3,663 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 663 yards and seven touchdowns on 163 carries. His 4,326 yards of total offense were second in school history and his 39 total touchdowns third. His 2,378 passing yards, 23 passing touchdowns, 2,739 yards of total offense and 28 total touchdowns were the most through eight games in Texas history.
There was some contemplation by Ehlinger to enter the 2020 NFL Draft, but probably wise he didn’t as he wasn’t considered among the top quarterback prospects – Mel Kiper Jr. has released his 2021 Big Board and Ehlinger isn’t among the Top 5 QBs, either. Ehlinger will be working with a new offensive coordinator as Mike Yurcich takes over for the fired Tim Beck. Yurcich spent last season as Ohio State’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, working with Heisman Trophy finalist Justin Fields, who is the current Heisman favorite.
Texas opens the season Sept. 5 vs. South Florida with no line out yet at SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks. The Horns have a win total of 8.5 with the over a -200 favorite. They are +175 second-favorites to win the Big 12. I’d go over 8.5 wins as I don’t see worse than a 9-3 record but like Oklahoma State to win the Big 12.
Previous Heisman profiles
- Georgia running back Zamir White
- Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace
- Purdue receiver Rondale Moore
- Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell
- Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
- Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell
- Alabama receiver/returning Jaylen Waddle
- Louisville running back Javian Hawkins
- Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson
- LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase
- UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel
- Alabama receiver DeVonta Smith
- Louisville receiver Chatarius Atwell
- Alabama running back Trey Sanders
- Minnesota Quarterback Tanner Morgan
- Penn State running back Journey Brown
- Oregon State linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
- LSU cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.
- Iowa State Quarterback Brock Purdy
- Penn State QB Sean Clifford
- Alabama running back Najee Harris
- Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders
- LSU quarterback Myles Brennan
- Mississippi State quarterback KJ Costello
- Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez
- Texas A&M Quarterback Kellen Mond
- Auburn quarterback Bo Nix
- North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell
- Alabama quarterback Mac Jones
- Florida quarterback Kyle Trask
- USC Quarterback Kedon Slovis
- Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book
- Clemson running back Travis Etienne
- Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard
- Georgia quarterback Jamie Newman