AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas linebacker Jake Ehlinger, the younger brother of former Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger, was found dead Thursday, Austin police officials said.
Police said they received a call at 12:18 p.m. and found Jake Ehlinger in the 1200 block of West 22nd Street. Authorities did not specify how they found him but did say his death is not considered suspicious. He was 20.
No cause of death or other details were released.
Ehlinger, who arrived at Texas in 2019 after his high school playing career at Westlake (Texas), did not play the last two seasons.
Jake Ehlinger joined the Longhorns as a walk-on under former coach Tom Herman. Current coach Steve Sarkisian issued a statement Thursday that said the program had “an extremely heavy heart” with Ehlinger’s passing.
“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, (mother) Jena, (sister) Morgen and the entire Ehlinger family,” Sarkisian said in a statement. “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.”
Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said “our hearts are truly broken.”
“Jake was an amazing young man from an extraordinary family with such a bright future ahead of him,” Del Conte said in a statement. “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.”
The Ehlinger family has been struck by tragedy before. Ross Ehlinger, Jake and Sam’s father, suffered an apparent heart attack in 2013 moments after starting the swimming portion of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. Ross Ehlinger died in the San Francisco Bay.
The Ehlinger boys grew up to become star football players at Westlake and signed with the Longhorns, the family’s longtime favorite college team.
Sam Ehlinger was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the NFL draft Saturday. Jake’s face was accidentally shown on the NFL Network where a photo of Sam was supposed to be, and Sam loved it.
“Good, good,” Sam said with a huge grin during his availability with reporters. “Jake deserves all the screen time you can get.”
A Colts spokesman told the American-Statesman that the team was working to get Sam Ehlinger on a plane back home immediately.
“It’s very sad and tragic news that we received this afternoon during such an exciting time for the family, and our hearts and prayers are with the whole family,” Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay said in a statement issued by the team.
“I know how close they were and we’re just really stunned, but we are prayerful and we know God has a plan,” Irsay continued. “We are doing everything we can to console the family and do what we can to make things as easy as possible at this difficult time.”
Also in a statement, Colts coach Frank Reich said, “There are no magic words in these moments, but all we can do is be there to love and support Sam. We will do everything we can. With Sam, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his mother and his sister as they mourn the tragic death of Sam’s brother, Jake.”
Multiple Texas players were also expressing their thoughts on social media with a simple message.
“Fly high 48,” former defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham tweeted.
Jake Ehlinger was also a student in the prestigious UT McCombs School of Business.
“We at McCombs are heartbroken learning the news of Jake Ehlinger’s death,” McCombs School dean Lillian Mills tweeted. “Our hearts and thoughts are with his brother Sam and the entire Ehlinger family tonight. This is a terrible loss in our community.”
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