Jake Ehlinger, a linebacker listed at 5 feet 11 and 245 pounds, was set to enter his junior year at Texas after joining the Longhorns in 2019 as a preferred walk-on. He did not play in a game in either of the past two seasons.
As with his older brother, Ehlinger played at Austin’s Westlake High, approximately seven miles from the Longhorns’ stadium. He is also survived by their sister and mother. Their father, Ross Ehlinger, died in 2013 at age 46 while competing in an “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon in San Francisco.
“Our hearts are truly broken and we are just devastated today to learn of the passing of our Longhorn family member Jake Ehlinger,” Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “Jake was an amazing young man from an extraordinary family with such a bright future ahead of him. It’s just such a tragedy that we are all really struggling with. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones and friends, especially the Ehlinger family and our entire football program. Jake’s family — Sam, Jena and Morgen — are such vital parts of our Longhorn family, and we will be here to support them in any and every way we can during this very difficult time. While the sense of pain and loss are deep, our focus at this time is on providing support to Jake’s family, our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, and everyone so greatly impacted by this in our athletics department. We have resources in place and grief counseling available as we help support everyone in our program. With that said, we sincerely hope that everyone will respect their privacy as we deal with this devastating news.”
“We grieve and weep with the Ehlinger family,” Colts owner Jim Irsay said on Twitter on Thursday. “Prayers, love and support.”
According to The Athletic, Sam Ehlinger flew back to Austin Thursday on Irsay’s plane after having been in Indianapolis for a Colts rookie minicamp that starts Friday.
When Sam Ehlinger was drafted, an NFL Network graphic mistakenly used a photo of his brother. The new Colts quarterback reportedly joked with reporters at the time that “Jake deserves all the screen time you can get.” According to Austin’s KXAN, a video shared by Texas Football on Saturday shows Jake Ehlinger celebrating with his brother and other family members after the Colts called with news of their pick.
Offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi, who became the first Longhorn drafted when he was selected in Friday’s second round by the Washington Football Team, said Thursday on Twitter: “My heart is hurting for the Ehlinger family. Praying God gives them strength and comfort as they go through this difficult time.”
“We have an extremely heavy heart with the news of the passing of our beloved teammate, friend and Longhorn family member Jake Ehlinger,” Steve Sarkisian, who in January replaced the fired Tom Herman as the Longhorns’ head coach, said in a statement. “Words cannot express the depth of our sadness and the huge void we are feeling, but above all else, our hearts pour out to Sam, Jena, Morgen and the entire Ehlinger family. Jake was a tremendous person and was everything you could ask for in a student-athlete. Being a Longhorn meant everything to him, and he truly embodied all that it means to be one. In the short time we were able to get to know him, he always was a joy to be around and gave everything he had in workouts, meetings, practice and in life.
“This is a tragedy beyond measure, and as I told the team today, in a time like this all we can do is open our hearts, pull together and do our best to provide love and support to each other, especially to the Ehlinger family.”