It seems like days ago that we were talking about Luke Joeckel’s progress in fall camp as a true freshman. A talented but baby-faced athlete who A&M had to put into the starting lineup even if he wasn’t ready. Now, two years later, Joeckel sat in front of a room of reporters as one of A&M’s team leaders at SEC Media Days. For Joeckel, he was excited about the experience, as well as honored that his coach would bring him as a representative despite not being a senior.
“Well it’s very cool,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to be this big. Kind of didn’t know what to expect being new to all of this and being new to the whole new conference and everything, but it’s been a great experience so far.”
He added, I’m very honored by it, it’s very humbling. I’m glad Coach Sumlin has the trust in me to bring the good image of Texas A&M and represent the university so I was very honored.”
Sumlin brought his talented left tackle along because not only could Luke Joeckel be one of the highest Aggies ever taken in the NFL draft, but he’s also become a leader to the younger players on the team.
“I’ve tried to be a leader, definitely with the offensive line,” he said. “We work out every day at 2:30 and we’ve got some veterans who have a lot of experience on the offensive line with all five guys returning, but trying to bring along the young guys, trying to get some depth. We need more than six guys. We’re trying to bring a lot of them along, we have some great other guys. Cedric Ogbuehi has done a great job this summer, he’s been a good leader and Jake’s (Matthews) been a great leader.”
Speaking of Matthews, Joeckel said that he and his classmate have been working together often this summer.
“We do football drills on our own every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday,” he said. “Me and Jake also stay extra and work on sets every single day. Us two workout together every day on the field and in the weight room together and we’re very competitive with each other, but we also help each other out with our sets and our technique. He’s a huge technician and he’s helped me out a ton.”
Joeckel also talked about the changes in the summer conditioning program this year.
“Coach (Kennedy) was a great coach last year for us, but the different workout styles were night and day though. Our workouts now are more up-tempo, less recovery between sets and everything and everything we do is sprinting and just going 100 percent. It’s tough, but we’ve had a great summer and everybody is getting adjusted to it. We’ve had great summer workouts.”
While that’s certainly welcome news for A&M fans, the offensive line isn’t one of the primary concerns heading into this season. Perhaps the biggest question mark for A&M is the defensive line, a group that Joeckel says has been improving this summer.
“They’ve moved from a 3-4 to a 4-3 but I think they’ve done a great job,” he said. “They’ve had a great summer and they’ve moved a long way since spring kind of learning the defense and everything. I think they’re really adjusting to everything really well. They’ve been working hard so I’m excited to see what they can do this fall for us.”
“Ivan Robinson has had great summer workouts. He’s gotten a whole lot stronger,” he added.
One piece of the offensive puzzle that comes back this fall for the Aggies is running back Christine Michael. Last season Michael suffered a season ending injury after averaging right at 100 yards per game in the first half of the season. Joeckel said the entire line is excited to have Michael back behind them.
“It’s very exciting. Love blocking for that guy,” he said. “He’s a guy that gives all the credit to the offensive linemen and every offensive lineman loves a guy that does that. He works his butt off every single day in the weight room. He’s now 100 percent if not more, he’s stronger than he’s ever been and I’m really excited about what he can do this year.”
The question that most of the over 1,000 reporters up here this weekend have asked Joeckel is whether or not he believes that he and A&M’s offensive line can compete with the talented defensive lines of the SEC. Joeckel said that absolutely believes it.
“I definitely have confidence in myself and I definitely believe I can play with any of those guys,” he said. He added, “There’s athletes at every single position. There’s defensive tackles that can run with tight ends and run with linebackers. It’s crazy to see the speed but I definitely think our offensive line can compete with them.”
Though he’ll face thousands of questions between now and the end of the season, perhaps the biggest question will come at season’s end when the talented junior will have to decide whether or not to return for his senior season. Joeckel, predicted by any as a first round draft pick next season, said he hasn’t even thought about it.
“No I haven’t,” he said. “I’m totally focusing on this year, I haven’t even thought about it.”