Texas senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger missed the second half of the Longhorns’ 55-23 win over Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Tuesday night after suffering what coach Tom Herman called a shoulder sprain.
It’s unclear when exactly Ehlinger suffered the injury. He was sacked on back-to-back plays on the Longhorns’ penultimate drive of the first half. The Longhorns ran one play, a handoff to Bijan Robinson, on their final second-quarter drive to run out the clock.
Ehlinger, a four-year starter, emerged from the locker room in the third quarter in street clothes and with his right arm in a sling. Sophomore quarterback Casey Thompson took over in relief of Ehlinger.
Herman said afterward Ehlinger wanted to go back in but that the team’s medical staff would not clear him to play.
“We talked on the sideline for a brief minute, just kind of explaining what happened,” Herman said. “I didn’t even know when the injury occurred or what the mechanism was that caused the injury.
“I told him how proud I am of him. I’d assume he knows that by now, how appreciative not only me but this entire program and university is of him and what he’s done.”
Entering the Alamo Bowl, Ehlinger had thrown for more than 11,000 yards and 93 touchdowns in his Texas career. He also had rushed for 1,912 yards and 33 scores.
He is second in Longhorns history to only Colt McCoy in career completions, passing yards, total offense, passing touchdowns and touchdowns responsible for. Ehlinger entered Tuesday’s game third in the country in points responsible for, with 202, and led the Big 12 in passing touchdowns with 25.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Herman said of Ehlinger. “He loves this university. He bleeds burnt orange. I hate that he couldn’t finish the game. We wouldn’t be here without him. To know that he was the leader behind this senior class being the winningest senior class since Colt McCoy is truly remarkable.
“I don’t know what the future holds for him, but I know that I’m thankful for him being on our team each and every day. What he means to us is indescribable.”
Before the Alamo Bowl, Ehlinger said he hadn’t made a final decision about whether to pursue an NFL career or return to Texas for one more season and that he would make the determination after the season. He has the option to return in 2021 under a blanket waiver that the NCAA provided to all players, which allows them to compete this season without it counting against their eligibility because of circumstances stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Harry Lyles Jr. contributed to this report.