One of the biggest questions for the Longhorns heading into 2017 is who will be the man under center come September 2 when Texas welcomes Maryland to the Austin?
Herman has not been shy this offseason about his concerns regarding the quarterback position. Incumbent starter under Charlie Strong, Shane Buechele, is not the big, physical QB that coach Herman likes in his offense. Enter Sam Ehlinger, a 6-foot-2, 230 pound dual threat quarterback.
Coach Herman has also been high on Ehlinger’s mentality has a football player and a person. In a sad turn of events, Ehlinger’s father died four years ago during the 2013 Escape From Alcatraz triathlon. Ehlinger’s loss has caused him to grow up faster than most, and for a hard-nosed football coach like Herman, that’s an asset.
“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,” Herman said back in February. “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.”
As much as Herman likes Ehlinger though, the freshman QB doesn’t appear ready to take over the reins just yet. It has been thought that Buechele, with his experience, would most likely be the starter, and coach Herman confirmed as much on Monday. Well, at least for now.
“As of today, Shane’s starting,” Herman said. “Now, does that guarantee he’ll start against Maryland? No. But, he’ll take the bulk of the ones. If he doesn’t take advantage of them, Sam plays better than him, that’ll change. As of now, Shane’s getting the bulk of the one reps, but Sam will continue to do that…. It’s a good battle, but you can tell Shane’s played 12 games of college football.”
I would be surprised if Buechele didn’t start against Maryland after holding Ehlinger off all fall camp. I would also be surprised if we don’t see Ehlinger at some point this season as Herman clearly isn’t ready to count him out. And we may see him sooner rather than later should the Longhorns struggle early.