Not only does Sam Ehlinger have the ability to throw the deep ball where only his receivers can catch it, but the 2017 Westlake high school quarterback can also tuck the ball and run for huge chunks of yardage.
The fact that he is 6’1” 207 pounds means he can also lower his shoulder and bounce off a would-be tackler or two. Ehlinger has plenty of tools at his disposal and at Westlake, under the tutelage of legendary four-time 5A Texas State Champion Coach Todd Dodge, Ehlinger has become one dangerous quarterback.
SMU is the first university to sit at the table with Ehlinger—offering him last week—but Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Tulsa, Houston, Missouri, Michigan, and Notre Dame are all paying very close attention.
“I’m not going to take credit for it at all.” Ehlinger says. “Coach Dodge and his offense and everything we run makes it easy from the quarterback position. I’m sure you’ve heard of all the good quarterbacks that he has had in his system. The offense’s passing game is great, it makes sense and is easy enough to understand and he implements a lot of running game for me- which is awesome because I love doing both.”
The offer from the Hilltop was a little surprising because up until a few days before, Ehlinger hadn’t spoken to anyone from the program.
“Coach Jess Loepp is one of the only [coaches] that I have really talked to,” Ehlinger says. “Coach Dodge gave me his number and I called him and he told me that SMU was going to give me an offer. I saw him a few days later at our spring game. But other than that, I haven’t really talked to any other SMU coaches.”
Since he is still in the early stages of his relationship with SMU, he hasn’t spent that much time talking to Loepp or any of the other coaches, but from the limited conversations they have had, he is impressed.
“I haven’t been able to talk to him much,” Ehlinger says. “But from what I can tell he is a very straight forward, does everything right kind of guy. One of the first things he said to me was that he wasn’t going to cheat the way other colleges do to get around the recruiting process with young sophomores. I respect that and it impressed me.”
The power of the football program and the friendliness of its coaching staff is just one part of a university’s appeal to recruits. Other areas, like the campus, academic reputation, student population, size, and community all factor into their decisions. For Ehlinger, one of those factors isn’t the weather.
I don’t think I’d mind playing in the cold,” he says. “Obviously, I’d love to stay in this area of Texas and stay close to home, but I would also love the adventure of moving. So, I think that right now, my recruiting process is completely open. I haven’t set my mind on a school at all.”
At the moment, Ehlinger doesn’t have any visits planned but he says those plans are fluid and, to a degree, not entirely for him to make.
“It is really up to Coach Dodge,” Ehlinger says. “He is leading me through this recruiting process and I’m going to do whatever he says. I’d like to visit some campuses this summer, but whatever Coach Dodge says goes.“