By Jimmy Burch
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. _ Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel, an Arlington High School graduate, takes pride in the fact that he is a member of “an offensive line family.”
His father, David, was a four-year letterman as an offensive lineman at Texas Tech (1979-82). His older brother, also named David, played offensive line for DePauw, an NCAA Division III school in Greencastle, Ind. And his grandfather, Reece Washington, played tight end for Texas Tech.
But Luke Joeckel added a bit of hardware tonight in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. that no one else in the family can claim. The junior received the 2012 Outland Trophy, given to the nation’s top interior lineman.
“I’ve watched the awards show for a lot of years,” Joeckel said. “Coming into college, I had no idea I’d ever be there. I’m humbled by it. … I don’t even think I’m one of he best players I’ve seen on film. So I guess I’m one of my harshest critics. It’s crazy.”
Winning the Outland, Joeckel said, is “something my Dad has talked to me about for a long time. It’s something I’ve worked for since I was little ... It’s something I’ve heard about my whole life. I’m honored by it.”
The junior, a first-team All-American, has been projected by NFL scouts as a first-team talent _ perhaps even the first overall pick _ if he opts to make himself available in the 2013 NFL Draft. Joeckel said he will make that decision in January, after No. 9 A&M (10-2) meets No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) in the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium.
For now, the next decision is where to put the Outland.
“I have no clue,” Joeckel said, laughing. “I’ll probably put it in the middle of the living room and make a shrine. I’m pretty excited.”
Joeckel became the second A&M player to earn an individual honor at tonight’s telecast of The Home Depot College Football Awards Show. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award earlier in the telecast.
Joeckel, a third-year starter, has stared every game of his college career for the Aggies. A&M ranks third among the nation’s 120 FBS schools in scoring offense (44.8 avg.) and total offense (552.3 yards per game). The Aggies are 13th in rushing offense (235.1 avg.) and 14th in passing offense (317.3). Joeckel, said coach Kevin Sumlin, has been a huge part of that success.
Now, he has the Outland Trophy to prove it.
_ Jimmy Burch