As part of our 2012 season review, we’re counting down the top 25 players in the ACC this season, from no. 25 to no. 1. Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof, obviously — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Maryland’s season was an unequivocal disaster (this does not need to be explained). And yet, senior Joe Vellano still managed to make a major impact each and every game, at times, even carrying the defense on his back. Operating in a new 3-4 scheme, Vellano made the most of his new opportunities, racking up 14 tackles for loss (six of which were sacks). Previously, he played primarily from the defensive tackle position, which limited him to more of a run-stopping role at the line. But here, he was really able to show off his vast skill set, regularly applying pressure in both the passing and running game, as evidenced by his TFL numbers. Most impressive of all, however, was that Vellano managed to play this entire season with a collection of lingering injuries. When your team’s bit by one of the worst injury bugs most fans have seen in some time, there are really no other options, and Vellano was more than happy to embrace that role. In terms of professional prospects, he’s seen as a bit slow (5.4 40-yard dash time), some of which could be due to his 6’1″ 300-pound frame. Still, he’s likely to be drafted.