Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel Wins 2012 Outland Trophy

Richard LangfordCorrespondent IDecember 6, 2012

Oct 13, 2012; Shreveport, LA, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates with offensive linesman Luke Joeckel (76) after scoring a touchdown during the game against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Independence Stadium. Texas A&M won 59-57. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

After a dominant run through the SEC, junior offensive tackle Luke Joeckel won the 2012 Outland Trophy award. 

As USA Today's George Schroeder notes, Joeckel pulled off the upset over Alabama's Barrett Jones.

Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel wins the Outland Trophy (outstanding interior lineman), upsetting Alabama's Barrett Jones. Hmmm, heard that before.

— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) December 7, 2012

Joeckel won this prestigious award, handed out since 1946 to the nation's best interior lineman, over fellow finalists Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina and Alabama's Barrett Jones, who won the award last year.

Junior Joeckel has been starting since his freshman year; he has always been an impact player and he has raised his play each season—and the fact he did this year was head-turning. 

He was supremely tested this season as Texas A&M switched to the defensive-heavy SEC, and Joeckel was faced with the task of going against an endless string of great defensive ends. And he did a fantastic job of locking down the blindside of Johnny Manziel.

With Joeckel protecting for Johhny "Football," the freshman quarterback put together a season that has him in a position to be the first freshman winner of the Heisman Trophy. Obviously, Manziel deserves all the credit in the world for his accomplishments, but having a tackle he knew would keep his blindside free had to be a huge key to the youngsters development. 

Joeckel has a year of eligibility left this year, but he could very well decide to bolt to the NFL. He is a lock to be taken in the first round, and likely in the first half of the first round. 

He will be an excellent pass protector from Day 1, and his run blocking is good enough already to be decent on the NFL level. 

He has some work to do in run blocking, but this athletic 6'6", 310-pound player will make strides in the run game.