Jace Amaro’s potential was apparent from the moment he arrived at Texas Tech. It just took some time for him to tap into it.
Once he did, Amaro and the Red Raiders reaped an extraordinary amount of benefits. On Tuesday, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound junior was named to The Associated Press All-America team on the first team.
He leads the nation’s tight ends in catches (98) and yards (1,240). That’s after he made little impact in 10 games as a true freshman and missed six conference games with an injury his sophomore year.
The difference this year?
“He stayed healthy, number one,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “That was huge, and then coach (Eric) Morris has been great for him, having played inside receiver in a similar offense. I think route running, technique, working hard, practicing hard, all those things ... . You’ve got to credit coach Morris with a lot of that and then Jace too, growing up and taking responsbility.”
The latest honor makes Amaro a consensus all-American. He’s appeared on the first three of the five all-America teams the NCAA recognizes in making that determination.
Last week, Amaro was named to the Walter Camp Foundation and The Sporting News teams. Still to be released are the teams chosen by the Football Writers Association of America and the American Football Coaches Association.
A tackle-machine linebacker, a tackle-busting running back and one of the most disruptive defensive tackles in the country made return appearances on The AP All-America team.
Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey and Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton were selected to the first team for the second straight season.
The All-America teams were released Tuesday and selected by a panel of AP college football poll voters.
Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston from Florida State added All-American to his resume after a spectacular redshirt freshman season. Heisman finalists Andre Williams from Boston College and Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch also made the first team. Williams joins Carey in the backfield and Lynch, the dual-threat quarterback, was chosen as an all-purpose player.
Carey, a junior, is second in the nation in rushing after leading last year, but said he thinks he’s a better player now.
“I worked hard to improve my speed and strength in the offseason while keeping my speed,” Carey said. “I put on 10 pounds of weight and I think that’s helped my durability. I also wanted to be a better blocker away from the ball. Blocking for our quarterback and our receivers is key to our system and it’s important that I do my part even when I’m not carrying the ball.”
Carey and Williams are set to compete on the same field this bowl season when Arizona and Boston College meet in the Advocare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 31. It will mark the first time since the 1977 Rose Bowl that two players selected first-team AP All-America at running back then faced off in a bowl. That game featured Michigan’s Rob Lytle and Southern California’s Ricky Bell.
Mosley, a senior, was the leading tackler for a defense that ranked fifth in the country in yards allowed per game. Sutton, a senior, was named Pac-12 defensive player of the year for the season straight season.
Winston, a landslide Heisman winner last week, is joined on the first team by three Florida State teammates — center Bryan Stork, kicker Roberto Aguayo and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner — to give the top-ranked Seminoles more than any other school.
Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan made the second team, along with offensive tackle Cameron Erving. The Seminoles had six players on the three teams, the most of any school.
No. 2 Auburn, which plays Florida State on Jan. 6 in the BCS championship game in Pasadena, Calif., placed Heisman finalists Tre’ Mason on the second team at running back and offensive lineman Reese Dismukes and Gregory Robinson on the third team.
Texas A&M Heisman finalist Johnny Manziel, last year’s Heisman winner and All-American quarterback, made the second team. Alabama’s AJ McCarron, another Heisman finalist, is the third-team quarterback for the second consecutive season.
The first-team receivers are Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, who leads the nation in yards receiving (139.2 per game), and Texas A&M’s Mike Evans, who is averaging 20.3 yards a catch.
Joining Stork on the offensive line are Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews and Alabama tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, as well as Baylor guard Cyril Richardson and Stanford guard David Yankey. Richardson and Yankey were second-team All-Americans last season.
Mosley and Sutton are on the first-team defense with Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who won the Nagurski and Bednarik awards as the nation’s best defensive player and the Outland and Lombardi as the country’s best lineman.
Missouri’s Michael Sam, the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year, and Jackson Jeffcoat, the Big 12 defensive player of the year, are the defensive ends. UCLA’s Anthony Barr and Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier round out the linebackers.
Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, one of the leaders of the nation’s top-ranked defense, is the other cornerback with Joyner. The safeties are Mississippi’s Cody Prewitt and Washington State’s Deone Bucannon.
Tom Hornsey of Memphis made the first team as the punter.
Florida State helped the Atlantic Coast Conference put six players on the first team, to match the Pac-12 and SEC for the most from any conference.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Quarterback: Jameis Winston, redshirt freshman, 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, Florida State.
Running backs: Andre Williams, senior, 6-0, 227, Boston College; Ka’Deem Carey, junior, 5-10, 196, Arizona.
Tackles: Jake Matthews, senior, 6-5, 305, Texas A&M; Cyrus Kouandjio, junior, 6-6, 310, Alabama.
Guards: Cyril Richardson, senior, 6-5, 340, Baylor; David Yankey, senior, 6-5, 313, Stanford.
Center: Bryan Stork, senior, 6-4, 300, Florida State.
Wide receivers: Brandin Cooks, junior, 5-10, 186, Oregon State; Mike Evans, sophomore, 6-5, 225, Texas A&M.
Tight end: Jace Amaro, junior, 6-5, 260, Texas Tech.
All-purpose player: Jordan Lynch, senior, 6-0, 216, Northern Illinois.
Kicker: Roberto Aguayo, redshirt freshman, 6-1, 203, Florida State.
Ends: Michael Sam, senior, 6-2, 255, Missouri; Jackson Jeffcoat, senior, 6-5, 250, Texas.
Tackles: Aaron Donald, senior, 6-0, 285, Pittsburgh; Will Sutton, senior, 6-1, 288, Arizona State.
Linebackers: Anthony Barr, senior, 6-4, 248, UCLA; C.J. Mosley, senior, 6-2, 238, Alabama; Ryan Shazier, junior, 6-2, 230, Ohio State.
Cornerbacks: Darqueze Dennard, senior, 5-11, 197, Michigan State; Lamarcus Joyner, senior, 5-8, 190, Florida State.
Safeties: Cody Prewitt, junior, 6-2, 220, Mississippi; Deone Bucannon, senior, 6-1, 198, Washington State.
Punter: Tom Hornsey, senior, 6-3, 210, Memphis.
Quarterback: Johnny Manziel, sophomore, Texas A&M.
Running backs: Tre’ Mason, junior, Auburn; Bishop Sankey, junior, Washington.
Tackles: Cameron Erving, junior, Florida State; Taylor Lewan, senior, Michigan.
Guards: Gabe Jackson, senior, Mississippi State; Xavier Su’a-Filo, junior, UCLA.
Center: Gabe Ikard, senior, Oklahoma.
Wide receivers: Sammy Watkins, junior, Clemson; Davante Adams, sophomore, Fresno State.
Tight end: Eric Ebron, junior, North Carolina.
All-purpose player: Ty Montgomery, junior, Stanford.
Kicker: Anthony Fera, senior, Texas.
Ends: Vic Beasley, junior, Clemson; Shilique Calhoun, sophomore, Michigan State.
Tackles: Timmy Jernigan, junior, Florida State; Kelcy Quarles, junior, South Carolina.
Linebackers: Trent Murphy, senior, Stanford; Khalil Mack, senior, Buffalo; Chris Borland, senior, Wisconsin.
Cornerbacks: Justin Gilbert, senior, Oklahoma State; Jason Verrett, senior, TCU.
Safeties: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, junior, Alabama; Ahmad Dixon, senior, Baylor.
Punter: Drew Kaser, sophomore, Texas A&M.
Quarterback: A.J. McCarron, senior, Alabama.
Running backs: Carlos Hyde, senior, Ohio State; Ameer Abdullah, junior, Nebraska.
Tackles: Jack Mewhort, senior, Ohio State; Gregory Robinson, sophomore, Auburn.
Guards: John Urschel, senior, Penn State; Ryan Groy, senior, Wisconsin.
Center: Reese Dismukes, junior, Auburn.
Wide receivers: Allen Robinson, junior, Penn State; Jordan Matthews, senior, Vanderbilt.
Tight end: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, junior, Washington.
All-purpose player: Odell Beckham Jr., junior, LSU.
Kicker: Jeff Budzien, senior, Northwestern.
Ends: Marcus Smith, senior, Louisville; Jeremiah Attaochu, senior, Georgia Tech.
Tackles: Ra’Shede Hageman, senior, Minnesota; Leonard Williams, sophomore, Southern California.
Linebackers: Shayne Skov, senior, Stanford; Max Bullough, senior, Michigan State; Denicos Allen, senior, Michigan State.
Cornerbacks: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, junior, Oregon; Vernon Hargreaves III, freshman, Florida.
Safeties: Jimmie Ward, senior, Northern Illinois; Ty Zimmerman, senior, Kansas State.
Punter: Austin Rehkow, freshman, Idaho.