HOBART — Sam Ehrlich did a ton of offseason work for the Hobart football team this past winter and spring.
He was tireless.
With a busload of seniors off of last fall's sectional championship team graduated, Ehrlich knew he had to lead in a different way.
"I was catching 50 to 100 balls every day that I could," Ehrlich said after Wednesday's practice.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior played wide receiver and defensive back last season. His athleticism and high IQ had his stock rise quickly.
Then, in May, during a workout, Hobart coach Ryan Turley walked over to Ehrlich and said one thing, "You're going to be our quarterback this season."
Ehrlich's eyes almost popped out of his face.
"I was shocked," he said. "I had never played quarterback in my life."
Turley's pick looks like a winner through the first two games of the season.
In a tough 35-21 loss to Chesterton in Week 1, Ehrlich played well, throwing and passing.
Then, in last Friday's 34-23 win over last season's Duneland Athletic Conference champion LaPorte Slicers, he lead like a guy who'd been there before.
Ehrlich is 15-of-28 passing for 209 yards with two touchdowns through two games. He's carried the ball 43 times for 288 yards and two more scores.
Not too bad for an unshaven newbie.
And on top of only playing two varsity games behind center, Ehrlich did not play football as a sophomore, putting more time and effort into baseball at that time.
"Sam was a spark from Day 1," Turley said. "Emotionally. Vocally. He's the total package. Everyone knew the QB was going to be a big question after losing two quality seniors last year.
"But he's answered every question. And he's only going to get better."
Turley brought in Steve McIntyre as Hobart's quarterback coach. McIntyre quarterbacked the Brickies in the 1985 Class 4A state championship game against Brownsburg.
Ehrlich's 11-year-old brother Noah has played quarterback his entire life. Both Ehrlichs went with McIntyre to the Top Gun Quarterback Camp at Hobart to help Sam make quick progress at the new position.
"It's a big move because I think the quarterback position is the most important one on the field," McIntyre said. "We've spent a lot of time working on fundamentals. Sam's smart and very athletic. It all comes down to his feet, staying balanced, squaring up his shoulders and following through.
"I've never seen a wide receiver turn into a quarterback before in one season. But the more reps he gets he's only going to get better."
Ehrlich spent a lot of time in the weight room in the offseason, a true Hobart tradition. But when he decided to not play baseball last spring he gained 20 pounds of muscle.
And as the Brickies prepare to host West Side tonight, a young and inexperienced group in purple seems ahead of schedule already.
"After last season's loss to Lowell in the regional we had one goal in mind," Ehrlich said. "We weren't going to settle. Everyone on this team is working hard to get better."