Texas Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlingers' death this spring was the result of an accidental drug overdose, according to a statement by the late student's family.
According to the statement, the 20-year-old University of Texas student and Westlake High grad overdosed on pills believed to be Xanax laced with Fentanyl, an often-deadly combo that has resulted in thousands of accidental fatalities nationwide.
Ehlinger was found dead off campus May 6 in a tragedy that shook the Austin and UT community, as well as Ehlinger's family, including his brother, former UT quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who now plays for the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.
An honorable mention All-State player and district defensive MVP while in high school, Ehlinger followed in his brother's footsteps and continued his football career as a walk-on at UT. He was also a sophomore in finance, a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and a member of the Texas Silver Spurs, a student organization that cares for beloved mascot Bevo the Longhorn.
Counterfeit Xanax pills have caused an increasing number of fatalities in the area with 1,000 deaths related to synthetic opioids in the state in 2020. Drug dealers have begun stuffing fentanyl, an opiod that the DEA said can be up to 60 times more deadly than heroin, into pills resembling the prescription anti-anxiety medication and selling them to unwitting customers.
"The spread of counterfeit pills is an ongoing and significant issue throughout our country, particularly in schools, colleges and universities," the the Ehlinger family said in a statement. "As our family continues to process Jake's death, we felt it was important to share these details with the hope that Jake will not have died in vain. We pray that sharing Jake's story will help shed light on this problem and prevent other families from also tragically losing a loved one."
To combat the surge of deaths, Austin police now have access to a supply of Narcan, a drug that can combat the effects of an opiod overdose. Though it's not mandatory, APD officers can now check out supplies of the drug when responding to calls. The department had almost completed training on the drug by June, according to a KXAN report.
"You can talk to a number of families that have had family members die because of opioid overdoses and if this was an option to help their loved one or save their loved one, I'm sure that every single one of them would tell you that it was incredibly important that we now have this incredible tool in our tool belt," Assistant Chief Scott Perry said in the report.
Ehlinger is remembered by his brother, Sam, his mother Jena, his sister Morgen and the University of Texas community. Ehlinger's father, Ross, died of an apparent heart attack while swimming in a triathlon in 2013.
"(Jake) was his dad's little buddy, and they shared an unbreakable bond," Jake's obituary read. "His father's spirit was alive and well in every part of Jake's life. Tragic life circumstances created a unique opportunity for Sam and Jake to uplift and empower each other. They were each other's biggest fans. Their mother, Jena, as well as their sister, Morgen, were the loves of Jake's life. Everyone will miss his giant hugs, but no one more than Jena and Morgen."
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It's not often that NFL kickers attempt a 60-yard-plus field goal, and it's even rarer to actually make it in. Not so for former Longhorn Justin Tucker; the Baltimore Ravens kicker managed both Sunday night as he booted in buzzer-beating 66-yard field goal to set a new NFL record and beat the Detroit Lions 19-17.
With the game-winning kick, Tucker bested the 64-yard record completed by Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater in 2013. The moment served as deja vu for Tucker and team; the star kicker last set his own record at the Lions' field nearly a decade ago with a 61-yard kick.
J Tuck with the longest FG in NFL history. SIXTY SIX YARDS. 🐐🐐🐐 pic.twitter.com/DKmj8SXeZH
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) September 26, 2021
"Man, I love Detroit. I'm thinking about getting a place here," Tucker told reporters after the game.
Tucker is now 16-for-16 on completed kicks in the final minute of regulation, according to ESPN, and this last-minute kick was just as dramatic; the ball bounced off of the crossbar before it landed in. Tucker was lifted off the field by his team and carried the game-winning ball well after the final whistle.
Although Tucker missed both of his 65-yard attempts in pregame warmups, Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters he was confident in his kicker's ability to make the unlikely play.
"He's the best kicker in history," Harbaugh said.
Thirty-one-year-old Tucker has been with the Ravens since 2012 and is the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history with 90.8 percent accuracy.
Before the NFL, the Westlake native handled 52 kickoffs for the University of Texas and made 190 career points for the Longhorns. He was awarded 2011 second-team All-Big 12 honors and was ranked second on UT's single-season list for field goals made in 2010 with 23 completions. His alma mater made sure to recognize him in a tweet.
Justin Tucker doing Justin Tucker things. 🤘@jtuck9
📸: @Ravens pic.twitter.com/wXz7x0ZUmt
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) September 26, 2021
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Two professional-level tennis tournaments will stir up a racket in Austin with the DropShot Tournament Series, which will feature a women's tournament October 25-31 and a men's tournament November 15-21.
The weeklong tournaments will have a $25,000 reward for their top competitors and will be held at the Texas Tennis Center in partnership with the University of Texas. The women's tournament is also sponsored by H-E-B.
The DropShot Tournament series was founded in 2019 by Austin FC co-owner Bryan Sheffield, an Austin entrepreneur who also founded Parsley Energy and Formentera Partners. Sheffield recruited former world championship tennis doubles player Christo Van Rensburg as the tournament's director.
In two years, the DropShot series has sought to bring experience to University of Texas players, young professional athletes and others as they look to up their rankings on the world stage.
"With each passing year, the tournaments get bigger, and the competition stiffer," Rensburg said. "As players from across the globe travel to Austin, we look forward to putting on an event that will give these professionals, of all ages, a chance to improve their world ranking and make money, while providing this city with a front-row seat to, this, our 3rd year of pro tennis tournaments. "
The tournaments will be free to the public, but ticketing will be limited. The third annual tournament will also live stream on the H-E-B Women's Pro Tennis Open for their semifinal and final rounds on Oct. 30-31 and for the DropShot Series Men's Pro Tennis Open on Nov. 20-21.
Longhorn athletes Jacob Bullard and Micah Braswell won big for their home tournament at the men's doubles champions last year, while Fernanda Labrana and Marta Perez Mur were finalists for the women's doubles competition in 2020. The women's duo were finalists in 2019 as well.
The DropShot Series is part of USTA Pro Circuit Events on the ITF World Tennis Tour, the world's governing body of tennis. For information on the event, ticketing and more, click here.
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In the latest play on the "Eyes of Texas" chessboard, the NAACP of Texas, its University of Texas chapter and five anonymous UT students have filed a civil rights complaint against the school for creating a "hostile environment" for Black students as the school continues to back its controversial alma mater.
According to The Texas Tribune, the complaint says that the continued playing of the alma mater and failure to address racial harassment against the song's opponents and Black students violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The school decided that the song had "no clear racist intent" after research in the spring and continues to support the playing of the alma mater. But those who disagree cite that the song debuted at a minstrel show where students likely wore blackface.
In response to continued pushback while facing pressure from angry donors supporting the song, the school decided to create a second band in which students do not have to play the song. The complaint states that this decision "violates equal protections afforded under the Fourteenth Amendment" according to the Tribune.
A member of student activist group Cops off Campus that staged a protest against the song at the school's annual "Gone To Texas" event, said that the separate band decision wasn't a solution to their demands. The student wished to remain anonymous to avoid backlash.
"The establishment of separate bands, really only solves part of the issue," the member said. "If a band still exists, and the school song is still 'The Eyes of Texas,' and it's still being played, then nothing is fundamentally changed. So it's not really any meaningful compromise."
The complaint states that continuing to keep the song "despite its racially offensive origin, context and meaning" leaves many Black students uncomfortable and unable to fully enjoy their college experience. In the complaint, five anonymous students said they felt ostracized by the university for not agreeing with the playing of the alma mater.
The NAACP filed the complaint one day before the Longhorns' first football game and a few weeks after the first protest of the song this semester, when a few dozen student activists protested the song at the school's annual "Gone to Texas" event.
The complaint and protests this semester show that the "Eyes of Texas" issue is far from over.
"If they don't take our demands seriously, we're going to continue to disrupt their events," the member said.
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