FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS SPORTS) —The man many analysts project to be the first offensive lineman selected in April’s NFL Draft is still unsure if he wants to jump to the NFL rather than return to Texas A&M for his senior season.
Luke Joeckel, the Aggies’ 6-6, 310-pound All-American left tackle, told CBSSports.com Sunday afternoon that it is very tempting to return to College Station — where the Aggies, coming off an 11-2 record and a Cotton Bowl destruction of Oklahoma — are primed to make a run at a BCS title.
“I love my teammates and we have such a great team coming back,” Joeckel said. “It’d just be so hard to leave College Station and leave my friends. We have a lot back, too. We do lose Damontre (Moore) and we have senior linebackers, but we think we have some guys that will step up.
“It’s just a rough decision both ways. There are so many pros and cons. It’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of prayer.”
Some NFL draft analyst have predicted Joeckel could go in the top three picks if he decides to leave early. The Aggies’ other starting tackle, Jake Matthews, also a junior, is projected as a first-round pick as well. Matthews’ father is former NFL great Bruce Matthews, who Joeckel says has been a great sounding board for his family.
“My dad has called and talked to him a few times,” said Joeckel. “[Bruce Matthews] has helped a ton. He’s a little bit different (than the typical NFL O-lineman). Not many guys, especially linemen, can play in the NFL for 19 years. He had just one of those indestructible bodies. It’s crazy.
“Me and Jake talk about it, too. We don’t talk about it all the time because we had a big bowl to play against OU, and that was one thing about me and Jake, we were solely focused on playing football. We weren’t worried about the NFL. That was a good thing but it’s also a bad thing because now we have to make our decision in 10 days. We’ll keep in touch and pick each other’s brains.”
Asked about the compelling factor besides the obvious financial reasons, Joeckel pointed out that he has jumped at opportunity before.
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