AUSTIN, Texas — To Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, football is more than just an opportunity to play – it's a chance to honor his late father.
"He definitely taught me everything I knew about the game," said Ehlinger about his late father.
Ross Ehlinger, Sam's father, died on March 3, 2013, during the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco. He suffered a reported heart attack during the swim portion at 46 years old. He was a trial lawyer and an athlete who taught his son the love of football.
The football player expressed that he had to step up and be there for his family more than ever when his father passed.
"The way I felt by taking care of my family, I think that carried over to how I lead on the field," Ehlinger said.
Todd Dodge, Westlake High School head coach and Ehilinger's former coach, came into the young quarterback's life a few months after the loss of his father.
"He had to grow up fast. There was a maturity that had to come whether he wanted it to or not," Dodge said.
"Texas football was kind of the connecting point for my family," Sam explained. "It was something we were always looking forward to, something we could always talk about."
Sam's mother, Jen, expressed that there were two things their family did and that was "go to Texas football games and go to church."
Sam led the UT football team to victory earlier in 2019 at the Sugar Bowl, the championship game for the Big 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference, while his mother was on the sideline cheering him along.
"There is almost an unspoken language moment for us when we all know we are thinking of Ross," Jen said. "Even in the happiest moments, we're just a little bit sad because he is not here."
It is clear that Sam has a heart for the game and a heart for his family.
"For me, being a huge fan and being a playing quarterback and being a leader inside my family and put all those parts together – it's unreal," he said.
Sam will take the field on Saturday for the first 2019 football season game on against Louisiana Tech. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. at DKR Memorial Stadium.
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