You may be asking yourself, who is Jace Amaro? While it is now pushing a decade since he stepped on to the field for Texas Tech, the most diehard Mountaineer fans will remember him to be the man who singlehandedly destroyed WVU. In two career games against WVU, Amaro finished with 14 catches for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns, with the first game being with offensive coordinator Neal Brown. Today, Brown may just be looking for his next secret weapon at the tight end position, and he will find his next Jace Amaro in redshirt sophomore Mike O’Laughlin.

Coming out of high school, O’Laughlin was rated a 3-star prospect by 247Sports, and held several offers, including Ohio State. He would ultimately choose the Mountaineers, signing to play with the Holgorsen-led Mountaineers at the time. Many expected him to step up and be offensive coordinator Jake Spavital’s replacement for Trevon Wesco, but all that went out the window when Spavital left for Texas State, and Holgorsen for Houston. In comes Neal Brown into the equation, and O’Laughlin’s situation may now be better than it ever was. Brown has proven he is capable of getting the tight ends involved in the passing game at each of his stops, and WVU will be no different.

O’Laughlin’s frame not only resembles that of Amaro, but they are similar in abilities. While both can certainly be lethal pass catchers, they can also be utilized in the running game with their size and strength. However, O’Laughlin certainly fits into the potential breakout receiving tight end more than a blocker. Both tight ends had Neal Brown running the offense, and will virtually be playing with the same signal-caller, Doege.

Seth Doege played with Amaro during his first two seasons at Texas Tech, and was successful in doing so. O’Laughlin will have the chance to play with his younger brother, Jarret Doege, and will have ample opportunity to better himself ahead of where Amaro was early in his career. Should Brown begin to get O’Laughlin heavily involved in the vertical passing game, we may have terrifying flashbacks at first, but this time Doege and the electrifying tight end are on our side.

It will be an interesting development to see just how much Neal Brown decides to go back to his roots using the tight ends in the passing game. A struggling offense hindered his opportunity to do so in 2019, but with the offense expected to improve, we could just begin to see monster numbers from the Ohio native. There hasn’t been many elite Big 12 tight ends since Amaro’s departure in 2013, but O’Laughlin will be changing that starting in 2020.