Catch A Rising Star: Jace Amaro

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It’s not often that a defensive back watches the opposing offense break the huddle and sees a 6’6″ 260 pound guy coming to line up in the slot position. However, this is exactly what the poor defensive backs that have had to face Texas Tech have encountered. Jace Amaro has been a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. His size alone is a problem but once you mix in his ability to use his athleticism to run routes, the result is production. Production that includes 92 receptions, 1157 yards and six touchdowns. I had the privilege of talking to this future star and I found out that he is a good person as well as an athlete.

Amaro was a semi finalist for the John Mackey Award which is presented to the nation’s best tight end. He was also a semi finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award which is given to the nation’s top wide receiver. The fact that he was a semi finalist for both is a testament to what kind of player he is.  He became the first player to be listed for both awards since Chase Coffman of Missouri in 2008. Unfortunately, Amaro was not a finalist for either award. I really have to wonder what it is that they wanted if they didn’t choose him as a finalist for the Mackey Award. At the point at which the finalist list was announced, Amaro had only 16 receptions less than the three finalists COMBINED. Amaro was also named a semifinalist for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, given to the best offensive player with Texas ties.

One thing that stood out to me was how positive and upbeat Amaro is. He spoke with a great deal of enthusiasm when he described what it meant to him to be nominated for these awards. The recognition is looked upon by many as an individual accomplishment but Amaro was quick to spread the credit around to his coaches. “It’s a great honor to be on the list for both positions. It just goes to show how great of a program that we have. They are trying to get me the ball often and  in space. It shows how much hard work does.”  Not becoming a finalist for the Mackey award may in fact be a blessing in disguise for the Texas Tech program. It seems that Amaro really has some unfinished business to come back and take care of now. Amaro said that he always was a fan of Texas Tech. When he was little he envisioned himself going there. He is now the best player on the team.

Jace+Amaro+Texas+Tech+v+Baylor+0kYT1_yQ9hsl_What is it that makes a player have such a positive attitude? I asked this question of Amaro. He said that there were many people who helped him along the way but specifically mentioned his high school coach and his father. He said that they did a great job of pushing him to the limit. Amaro also said that his family did a great job of leading him throughout the way. You can always tell when a person was brought up by a solid family. The respectful way that Amaro spoke and his willingness to talk about things that weren’t the best situation showed that he was raised in a solid household. He said that he wouldn’t be in the position that he’s in without his family.

One of those tough situations happened recently when Amaro took a big hit from Baylor defensive back Ahmad Dixon on a crossing route. Dixon, a future NFL player, delivered a bone crunching hit. Amaro laid on the ground for a bit before getting up and being helped off the field. He finished the game with four catches for 55 yards.

Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder was watching the game and when he saw Amaro go down, he wrote him a letter by hand. Coach Snyder has done the same thing before for players that his Wildcats have faced. This is something that Amaro described as a sign of how much respect he has for the players in this conference. He said that Kansas State was one of the best teams that he faced when I asked him which teams stood out to him this year. Amaro also said that Coach Snyder is a great coach.

This was not Amaro’s first experience with injury. During the West Virginia game in his sophomore season, Amaro suffered an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. It happened when he received a hard hit to his midsection jumping for a ball. He briefly returned to the game after halftime but was unable to continue playing. The injury was later revealed to be a Grade III (I-V) spleen laceration and a fractured rib. The injury caused internal bleeding, requiring hospitalization and 6.5 units of blood. Yet he still was able to return to the game. Amaro was bedridden for three weeks but he still appeared in the Meineke Car Care Bowl against Minnesota. That is what I call a tough player.

This young man really gets it. We talked about some of the things that he is doing off of the field and I came away very impressed. Amaro told me that he has done a lot of help at a local church in which the Pastor also doubles as the Pastor for Texas Tech football. He said that as a part of the church, he is always helping out with community service and enjoys that a lot. He feels that he “should have appreciation for everything that he has been given, to be able to play football and that it can be taken away at any moment.”

The best part of the conversation was when I asked him to give me an NFL comparison. He told me he’s a blend of Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Vernon Davis. He was quick to point out how he “set his routes up well, stems them very well. I catch the ball with my hands.” It will take a lot to duplicate what Graham, Gronkowski and Davis have done for their teams but Amaro has the heart, athleticism along with the size to be the next in a series of unstoppable tight ends.

The future is really bright for Jace Amaro.