Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, who has served as a protector and blocker for Heisman Trophy finalist Johnny Manziel, was named the 67th winner of the Outland Trophy on Thursday night.
The 6-6, 310-pound junior from Arlington, Texas, was revealed as the 2012 Outland winner on ESPN during "The Home Depot College Football Awards" from the Atlantic Dance Hall at the Walt Disney World Resort.
The FWAA selects the Outland Trophy winner from interior linemen on its All-America team, which will be announced next Friday, Dec. 14. Joeckel beat out Alabama center Barrett Jones, the 2011 Outland Trophy winner as an offensive tackle, and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, for the third-oldest award in major college football.
Despite its rich football history, Texas A&M has never had an Outland Trophy winner ? or even a finalist ? until Joeckel. Jones was seeking to become only the second player in the award's history to win it twice after Nebraska center Dave Rimington won the award in both 1981 and '82.
"It's crazy to think about it," Joeckel said of being named the top interior lineman in college football. "It is a dream come true. I am honored by it. I don't think I am one of the best players I see on film. I am one of my harshest critics, I guess."
Joeckel was a mainstay of the powerful Texas A&M offensive line that made quite an impact in the school's first season in the Southeastern Conference, including the Aggies' upset of then top-ranked and unbeaten Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Nationally, the 10-2 and AT&T Cotton Bowl-bound Aggies are third in total offense and scoring offense, 13th in rushing offense, and 14th in passing offense.
Joeckel had a ringside seat watching and playing in front of Manziel, the freshman quarterback sensation who he said "had two years of Heisman highlight films in one season." Already, Manziel has been selected to several All-America teams as he led the SEC in rushing yards per game (98.4) and shattered the conference's single-season total offense record (4,600).
"Yes, it's a huge compliment to us," Joeckel added of Manziel's instant fame as a freshman, including being named one of the three 2012 Heisman Trophy finalists.
Although Texas A&M lost its SEC opener against Florida, Joeckel said the offensive line adjusted to the speed and talent it encountered. "The guys in the SEC are bigger, faster, stronger, but the biggest thing is depth," Joeckel said. "In the Big 12 you might play just against one guy the whole game (instead of several)."
Joeckel is the fourth SEC player to win the Outland Trophy in the last six years, starting with LSU's Glenn Dorsey in 2007, Alabama's Andre Smith in 2008 and then Jones a year ago. While Joeckel is just a junior, he may have to consider what his NFL Draft status will be come next April.
"I am just taking it all in," said Joeckel, who is on schedule to get his degree in business marketing next December. "I am talking to my family and my coaches. My dream is to play in the NFL. There are a ton of things to think about. I believe I'm at the best school in the entire country. It would be hard to leave such a great school."