Former Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger is no stranger to a quarterback competition.
Early in his college career, Ehlinger beat out former SMU Mustangs and current Kanas City Chiefs quarterback Shane Buechele for the rights to run the show in Austin.
Now in the NFL, Ehlinger finds himself in a similar situation, vying to the backup spot to the oft-injured Carson Wentz with former Georgia Bulldog and Washington Huskie quarterback, Jacob Eason.
And much like his early days in Austin under Tom Herman, Ehlinger is earning rave reviews from his new head coach in Indianapolis, Frank Reich, who praised the rookie's intangibles and football IQ.
“I’m really impressed with where Sam is,” Reich said. “Not only mentally, but whatever the ‘It’ factor is. It’s not too big for him. You can feel that. He’s got a presence about him. And he has instincts. You can just feel that he has good quarterback instincts. I told him (Tuesday) that it’s very apparent he understands how to keep the game simple. And that’s a big deal.”
Ehlinger may not be the most accurate thrower of the football, nor the best passer in terms of elite arm strength.
What Ehlinger does have, however, is the ability to make things happen with his feet.
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But more importantly, he has the ability to find a way to get the job done one way or the other, despite not being blessed with a laser cannon for an arm like his competitor.
"Jacob has an elite arm,” Reich said. “They’re both athletic, but I think Sam is more of a runner. He proved that in college. He makes a lot of plays with his feet. Sam has a good arm but not the elite arm. So, he finds ways to get it done. And when you’re that kind of player, that’s what you do. He’s just very good at that.”
With Wentz's timetable for return set anywhere between 5-12 weeks, depending on a variety of factors, Eason or Ehlinger could very well get a crack at starting for the Colts in week one of the regular season, and potentially longer.
Should Wentz take the full 12 weeks to heal, his return wouldn't come until late October or early November, giving the winner of the competition multiple weeks of starting opportunities under center.
And if Ehlinger is anything, as we have learned over the last four years, he is a winner.
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