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Sam Ehlinger (+1700) Moves Into Top Ten in 2019 Heisman Odds; Can He Become First Longhorn QB to Win?

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger flashing the horns
Sam Ehlinger enters the 2019 season with a lot of Heisman hype, in part thanks to an MVP performance in last year's Sugar Bowl win over Georgia. Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire.
  • Much like the CFP odds, the Heisman odds favor Clemson (Trevor Lawrence) and Alabama (Tua Tagovailoa)
  • Quarterbacks have dominated the award, with all but three winners since 2000 being signal callers
  • That’s good for Ehlinger and his backers

The summer of 2019 is proving to be no different from recent history for Texas: as July and August come and go, expectations for the Longhorns rise, fairly or not.

More times than not, that manifests itself in win total projections — or, in this year’s case, Sporting News picking the Longhorns to make the College Football Playoff, finally unseating Red River rival Oklahoma.

This year’s Texas summer hype comes with some individual side effects, namely, the rising Heisman odds for quarterback Sam Ehlinger.

Player (Position, Team) 2019 Heisman Odds (07/19/19)
Tua Tagovailoa (QB, Alabama) +250
Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson) +275
Jalen Hurts (QB, Oklahoma) +700
Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State) +900
Adrian Martinez (QB, Nebraska) +1100
Jake Fromm (QB, Georgia) +1400
Sam Ehlinger (QB, Texas) +1500
D’Andre Swift (RB, Georgia) +1700
Travis Etienne (RB, Clemson) +2000
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Wisconsin) +2000

Fool’s Gold

The Longhorn love this summer feels a little more justifiable than previous years due to the events of Jan. 1: Bevo got the quick upper hand on Uga then the football Longhorns followed suit on the football Bulldogs, ultimately winning the Sugar Bowl 28-21.

Ehlinger was the game’s MVP and emphatically declared Texas “back” as he accepted that honor.

The MVP honor was well earned: completing 70 percent of his passes (19-for-27), running for three touchdowns, and protecting a lead with two drives of longer than five minutes in the fourth quarter. But Ehlinger would not be the first to ride a big bowl performance into Heisman hype, just to fall well short of the stage in New York.

Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold was the darling of the offseason between 2016 and 2017, after throwing for 453 yards and five touchdowns in a Rose Bowl-win over Penn State. Darnold did not get a single Heisman vote the ensuing December, falling behind not only finalist Lamar Jackson and winner Baker Mayfield, but also behind Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton.

Granted, Ehlinger probably has more numbers-boosting teammates than some of his bowl-to-bust predecessors.

Ehlinger Won’t Be a Lone Star

Ehlinger can no longer turn to his best receiver and the team’s best name, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, but he does have two senior receivers in Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay, both of whom went over 500 yards last season.

Athlon had two Longhorns on its First Team All-Big 12 offensive line, Zack Shackelford and Samuel Cosmi, plus Georgia Tech transfer Parker Braun.

That line could improve what was an underwhelming running back position for the Longhorns, but it could also help Ehlinger push above the 482 rushing yards he had last year.

Twice in three years, the Heisman winner has been a quarterback who ran for over 1,000 yards, so an improved offensive line, which both opens more space for runs and limits sacks, would give Ehlinger a more sound statistical case.

Final Push

If nothing else, Ehlinger should have no shortage of so-called Heisman moments. Texas will command attention thanks to lofty preseason projections, and if the Longhorns live up to them — collecting wins over LSU and Oklahoma, among others — Ehlinger is likely to be lifted to the national limelight, possibly all the way to the Heisman Trophy ceremony.

All told, the lack of defensive prowess in the Big 12 and the playmaking options on the Texas offense give Ehlinger plenty of opportunity to build a Heisman Trophy resumé statistically. All he has to do now is win the games, have Texas on the brink of the Playoff to justify the chatter.

In that sense, Texas’ Playoff hopes and Ehlinger’s Heisman hopes likely go hand-in-hand, and I think you should bet accordingly.

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