The crowd arrived early for Sam Ehlinger.

Four hours before the Texas quarterback was scheduled to hold court at Big 12 media day in July, four reporters set up tripods in front of his dais, effectively planting their flags on the most coveted real estate on the AT&T Stadium turf.

By the time Ehlinger arrived, the entirety of the space surrounding him had been claimed. Eighteen video cameras - not including cellphones - captured every word. Four reporters even used step stools to see over the mass of others while operating their equipment.

To Ehlinger's right, Longhorns defensive end Malcolm Roach arrived at his own table to answer questions, but the spillover of media members hungry for time with the quarterback encroached on his space, too. Roach joined in, playfully dangling an arm over Ehlinger's table, pretending to gather a soundbite himself.

This is life for the QB1 who returned Texas to college football's upper echelon.

It's been a long time coming. After nearly a decade of trying and failing to develop a franchise pivot, the Longhorns finally found their man last year in Ehlinger, an Austin native.