By Taylor Fortney
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
As Texas Tech drove down the field down four points in the fourth quarter, junior tight end Jace Amaro told coach Kliff Kingsbury, “Give me the ball.”
In a drive defining moment from within Tech territory, Amaro wrapped his hands around a pass, brutally knocked down a defender, then streaked upfield, dragging one defender more than 15-yards.
Beast mode engaged.
“"He said to put it on his shoulders for the second half,” Kingsbury said after the West Virginia game. “So that's what I did. When they went up by 11, the ball went his way and he kept making plays.”
Amaro has continued to make plays, becoming an integral part of the high-powered Texas Tech offense.
“I think you have to be able to understand the offense to be an impact player,” Amaro said. “I feel like this is what I wanted to do and this is what I wanted to be.”
An impact player was what the Red Raiders needed, rotating in two freshman quarterbacks who continue to look Amaro’s way play after play.
“They expect me to be open every single play,” Amaro said. “I feel like I have done a good job of being there when they need me, and making sure I play as well as I can every single game.”
And he has been there every game. Amaro has logged eight or more receptions in nine straight games, culminating with 15 receptions for 174-yards against Oklahoma State, both season highs.
Co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie loves having the big-bodied Amaro running routes for Tech’s young quarterback.
“He’s a big security blanket for [true freshman quarterback] Davis Webb,” Cumbie said. “We’re excited that he’s been able to get open, and even when he isn’t open, he is a big target.”
At six-foot-five inches and 260 pounds, Amaro is one of the most intimidating figures on the football field. Yet it is his athleticism that allows him to play with such versatility at the tight end position, often lining up as an inside receiver.
“The challenge is that defenses are going to key on you,” Amaro said. They expect you to catch a lot of balls. You have to be on top of your game every week, and I feel like I’ve done that up to this point.”
Despite being ranked in the top ten in both receiving yards and receptions per game, Amaro hasn’t quite garnered the award attention, with his name missing from the John Mackey Award midseason watch list. But this oversight doesn’t bother Amaro.
“It’s just one of those things that will happen if it happens,” Amaro said. “But I’m not really worried about it. I know how well I am playing and I know what kind of player I am, so I am just going to let that slide and keep on playing my game.”
Both his game and his actions off the field have garnered the attention and respect of his teammates.
“I know what it takes to win, and I know how hard it can be,” Amaro said. “Some guys get down, and you just have to make sure they don’t go down for the count and just keep them playing. That comes through experience and I have seen a lot of other players lead this team from the past couple of seasons.”
Cumbie sees the whole package in Amaro, and likes what he brings to the team.
“He’s playing well,” Cumbie said. “When the ball is thrown his way, he is doing a good job.
First-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury perhaps summed it up best after the West Virginia win.
“His size, speed and determination are all a deadly combination,” Kingsbury said.In Focus