Texas Tech junior Jace Amaro is one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, presented to the top tight end in college football. Texas Tech junior Jace Amaro is one of 10 semifinalists for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, presented to the top wide receiver in college football.
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Confused yet? The selection committee that votes for the Mackey certainly was, refusing to put Amaro on its watch list because he rarely plays with his hand on the ground in the Red Raiders' Air Raid spread passing offense. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, Amaro more than meets the physical requirements of the position and is listed as such by Texas Tech. It certainly couldn't be an issue of productivity -- Amaro ranks second in the FBS with 92 receptions this season and sixth in receiving yards (1,157).
No, it would seem to reflect struggles accepting the changing role of the tight end in football across all levels. The emphasis on creating mismatches is paramount, as demonstrated by the four tight ends that rank among the NFL's top 18 players in touchdown receptions this season.
In terms of athleticism, Amaro probably isn't the same caliber as Jimmy Graham (10 touchdowns this season) or Vernon Davis (8), but he is on par with Julius Thomas (10) or Jordan Cameron (6). Amaro, who has six touchdown receptions, will be a more advanced route-runner entering the NFL than the three former college basketball players on that list.
And never question Amaro's toughness. In the 63-34 loss to Baylor on Saturday, Amaro ended up with a bloody chin and 19-yard reception through a nasty collision with Bears safety Ahmad Dixon.
That prompted Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder to send Amaro, who finished with four receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns against Baylor, a hand-written letter conveying his respect.
No matter where he lines up, Amaro has earned the respect of opponents and, finally, the Mackey voters.