Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they to be absent for any reason. In fact, that may be the best way to conceive of the critical players—they are the performers the team could least afford to lose.
With this series, we will take a reverse order look at the Red Raider football players we consider most invaluable.
6' 5" 255
San Antonio, Texas
Rarely has so much been expected of a Texas Tech football player who did so little as an underclassman, as is expected of Jace Amaro. And that's no knock on the hulking tight end from San Antonio. Rather, it's a commentary on the magnitude of the expectations coupled with the reality that Amaro has played only one and a half seasons of football, one of them being his true freshman year.
Over the course of Amaro's two years in Lubbock, he has caught 32 passes for 466 yards and scored six touchdowns. He has also averaged 14.56 yards per grab. Those are decent numbers for a tight end in the 1980s, but ordinarily would do little to excite the faithful in Lubbock where receivers have been known to catch 32 passes over the course of five games. Indeed, subtract Amaro's one monster game against West Virginia last season and he's caught only 27 balls for 305 yards.
But Jace Amaro is no ordinary athlete and those numbers hardly tell the entire story. Amaro arrived at Texas Tech as one of the most heralded recruits in school history. One recruiting service tabbed him as the third best tight end prospect in the nation.
And there is simply no denying that Amaro is a true specimen of a tight end. In addition to his size, Amaro runs as well as many wide receivers, and has excellent hands which are only foiled by an occasional lack of focus.
Then there was that game against West Virginia.
Prior to that contest, Amaro had been lots of rattle and very little fang, to tell the truth. Sure, he had had a few nice moments but was far from being the Dave Casper/Kellen Winslow/Tony Gonzales type that Red Raider fans were expecting. But Amaro certainly exited the waiting room against the Mountaineers.
Amaro was easily the most dominating player, in Tech's most dominant performance of the season. He ripped and rambled through the WVU secondary like a runaway freight train tearing down the side of a mountain. And had Amaro not suffered a season-ending injury early in the third quarter, there's no telling what sort of numbers he would have put up.
The general thought is that the West Virginia game was Amaro's breakout point, and if he hadn't been injured, might have put up All America numbers over the remainder of the season. And that, my friends, that single amazing performance, is the primary reason many observers are expecting Amaro to be the best collegiate tight end in America in 2013.
If Amaro lives up to those tall expectations, he will be Tech's greatest receiving threat since Michael Crabtree. And it is not inconceivable that he could propel the offense to the high-test efficiency of Crabtree's magical 2008 unit. Were this to happen, the Texas Tech Red Raiders would be a much better team in 2013 than anybody reasonably expects.