Oklahoma football: Sooners on collision course with the nation's best lineman
COTTON BOWL — Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel is projected as one of the first players to be selected in the NFL Draft. On Friday in Arlington, the Texas A&M tackle will be the Oklahoma Sooners' problem.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Luke Joeckel calls himself a background guy.
And he likes it that way.
“I grew up an offensive lineman,” the Texas A&M left tackle said. “I'm used to staying in the background. I don't like being in the spotlight very much.”
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He might want to start getting used to the glare.
Joeckel won the Outland Trophy this season as the nation's best interior lineman. He is also projected to be one of the top players in the upcoming NFL Draft. One mock draft even has him as the top overall pick for Kansas City, calling him a cornerstone pick for the Chiefs.
As a junior, Joeckel has yet to say if he will forego his senior season to enter the pros.
Oklahoma will have to figure out how to handle him and the Texas A&M offensive line Friday night in the Cotton Bowl.
“As a unit on their football team,” Sooner defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said, “their offensive line is probably their greatest strength.”
The Sooners have had their struggles up front this season, and with the suspension of defensive tackle Stacy McGee, they'll be shorthanded in the Cotton Bowl. They've moved defensive end David King into the middle, but regardless of personnel, they'll have their hands full against the Aggies.
Texas A&M doesn't just have great talent on the offensive line — right tackle Jake Matthews is also an All-American — but it also has great continuity. The five linemen have started every game together this season, something the Sooners recognize as a luxury.