AUSTIN, Texas — Steve Sarkisian has a reputation for developing young quarterbacks. He’ll have his next opportunity to validate that praise when he takes over as the next Texas football coach, after quarterback Sam Ehlinger announced Sunday that he is bypassing the chance to play another year at UT in order to enter the 2021 NFL Draft.
“Although we didn’t reach our ultimate goal of winning a championship, we have won many great games and the program is indeed in a much better place,” Ehlinger said in a video that was included in a statement released through the Texas athletic department. “I can say with confidence that I did my absolute best and left everything on the field. In the same way that I knew UT was the right choice for me, I now know that it is now time for me to go on to the NFL.”
There was some speculation that he might return for a final season in Austin, during which he could write his name all over the UT record books. But Saturday's firing of Tom Herman, the only Texas coach for whom Ehlinger ever played, made Sunday's announcement more predictable.
Ehlinger, who has accepted an invitation to the 2021 Senior Bowl that will be played Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala., wraps up a decorated UT career in which he became one of the top quarterbacks in the program’s history.
Ehlinger played in 47 games at Texas, starting 43, and his 27 victories as UT’s starting quarterback are the fourth-most in program history. The two-time captain ranks second in the history of the program with 923 completions, 11,436 passing yards, 13,343 yards of total offense, 94 passing touchdowns and 127 total touchdowns responsible for.
A versatile dual threat, he also ranks second in program history for a quarterback with 33 rushing touchdowns and 1,907 rushing yards.
He holds numerous school records, including for lowest interception percentage (1.83 percent), games with at least one passing and rushing touchdown (18), games with at least 350 yards of total offense (11), games with 400 or more yards of total offense (5), games with at least 400 passing yards (2) and games with five-plus passing touchdowns (2).
One of only three players in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history to throw for at least 11,000 career yards and rush for more than 1,500 yards, he also is one of only three players in FBS history to throw for at least 90 touchdowns and rush for 30. His 127 touchdowns responsible for rank as the fourth-most in Big 12 history, and his 94 passing touchdowns are the seventh-best tally by a Big 12 quarterback.
He helped lead Texas to eight wins over ranked opponents and tied the school record with seven game-winning drives during his four-year career. He also tied former Longhorn quarterback Colt McCoy for the school record with three bowl game wins as the program's starting quarterback, and is the only quarterback in school history to play meaningful snaps in four bowl wins.
This season, Ehlinger was named a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award, Wuerffel Trophy and Bobby Bowden Trophy. He was selected to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, named the Big 12 Co-Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year and recognized as a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien and Earl Campbell Tyler Rose awards. He was also a Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Top-10 Candidate and earned second-team All-Big 12 recognition from the league’s coaches. Ehlinger was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 First Team selections (2018-20) and a six-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll.
“From the moment I started against USC at just 17 years old,” Ehlinger said in the video, “this ride has been amazing.”