Summer 2024

New Colts starting QB Sam Ehlinger finds peace, hope by putting God first

In the span of two weeks, Sam Ehlinger has gone from being the Indianapolis Colts’ third-string quarterback to the team’s starter for the rest of the season. Ehlinger was elevated to second string for their Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans, and head coach Frank Reich announced Monday the former sixth-round pick would be their quarterback moving forward.

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“It’s a big step but we think he’s ready,” Reich said when discussing the switch. “This guy’s special. Just talk to anybody that walks in that locker room — we’re fortunate to have a guy like [Ehlinger], really three quarterbacks like that. But Sam, he’s got that about him. He carries himself in a way, he plays, he practices in a way he’ll be ready.”

Ehlinger saw action in three games last season, rushing the ball three times for nine yards. He has never thrown a pass in a regular-season NFL game.

The second-year pro impressed in his extended playing time in the preseason this year, completing 24 of his 29 passes for 289 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed for 71 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Speaking to the media for the first time since being named the starter, Ehlinger said Wednesday that his confidence in the way he’s been preparing has helped him handle the sudden change in roles.

“I’m always preparing to be the starter,” he said. “Regardless of when that opportunity was going to come, I was going to be ready and do what I could to be prepared. That’s alleviated a lot of the stress. I mean, I can’t imagine if I weren’t preparing the way that I was.”

Throughout his football career, Ehlinger has also been outspoken about his faith, especially with the role it’s played in helping him cope with tragedy. His dad, Ross, passed away during a triathlon when Sam was 14. Last year, Ehlinger lost his brother, Jake, right as he was beginning his career with the Colts.

When his mom, Jena, called after they’d both received the news about Jake, Sam recited Joshua 1:9 to her: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

In the aftermath of his brother’s passing, Ehlinger said in an interview with the Indianapolis Star that he had started to really focus on his faith during his senior year at the University of Texas, and had gained a new appreciation for the eternal hope offered by God.

“The peace in eternity, eternal satisfaction, that concept, was something I clung onto when my dad died, but I didn’t truly comprehend or understood what it meant until probably about a year ago, when I really dove into my faith, really put God first in every single aspect of my life,” he said. “Instead of saying I was a believer, [I started] actually, truly living it and following what He told us to do.”

Ehlinger’s first NFL start will come Sunday against the Washington Commanders with the Colts sitting at 3-3-1. Kickoff from Lucas Oil Stadium is at 4:25 p.m. ET.

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