Key to stopping Tech’s attack starts with one of nation’s best

SAN DIEGO, CA-What a difference a year makes.

Last season Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro was more of a spectator than a playmaker missing nearly half of the season after an internal bleeding issue following a hard hit in an upset win over West Virginia. He returned in time for Tech’s Meineke Car Care Bowl win over Minnesota.

The 6’5, 260-pound junior bounced back in a big way in 2013 thriving in first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury’s spread offense. The San Antonio native has 98 catches for 1240 yards and seven scores including 15 grabs for 174 yards and a score against Oklahoma State last month.

His impact has certainly caught the attention of Arizona State head coach Todd Graham and the Sun Devils leading up to their Holiday Bowl matchup against Tech.

“I don’t think we’ve played against a better tight end than him,” Graham said after a recent practice in southern California. “We obviously have to identity where he’s at. He can do it all.”

Despite his size, Amaro has the ability to beat teams with his speed, as well.

“On film you see a big, fast physical specimen who has great speed,” ASU defensive coordinator/associate head coach Paul Randolph told “Obviously it’s going to present a matchup problem who’s 6’5, 260 and runs a four-five forty.”

Amaro hasn’t announced his intentions regarding the 2014 draft but hinted he may return to Lubbock after being snubbed for the John Mackey Award given to the nation’s top tight end. Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who stats pale in comparison (33 catches, 413 yards, seven touchdowns) won the award.

“In our offense he draws a lot of double teams,” Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury explained. “They put a nickel [cornerback] on him because he’s so fast. Just his physicality, in general, makes it a tough matchup on people.”

Amaro is expected to be a first-round pick if he goes pro.

He won’t be hard to miss Monday night at Qualcomm Stadium.