University of Texas linebacker Jake Ehlinger was found dead at the 1200 block of West 22nd Street on Thursday afternoon, only five days after his older brother Sam was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft. Twenty-year-old Jake was discovered after a call was placed to the Austin Police Department at 12:18 p.m. CT. Authorities have not declared an official cause of death and provided no details of what was on the scene, but they ruled out any foul play.
The Ehlingers are not strangers to unexpected family misfortune. The boys’ father, Ross, suffered a heart attack in 2013 shortly after he began the swimming portion of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, and he perished in the San Francisco Bay.
The Ehlinger family was tight-knit, and Jake’s sudden passing has left the UT community heartbroken. Two years ago, Sam, a QB for UT Austin, spoke with enthusiasm about taking the field with Jake. “Unreal,” he told reporters at the time. “We’ve been dreaming of that our whole lives, and we got the opportunity to run out together.”
Jake showered his big brother with praise, too, telling the Austin American-Statesman in 2018 how he and his big brother made sure to call to text each other every day. “Sam taught me everything I know today,” he said. “He’s always been there for me and the whole family. Smart. Caring. He is the most incredible person, a good brother.”
UT Austin football coach Steve Sarkisian said the program had “an extremely heavy heart” from the news of the tragedy. “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,” he 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.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay also offered the family his condolences. “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,” he said. “I know how close they were, and we’re just really stunned, but we are prayerful and we know God has a plan. 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.”