Joe keeps getting attention for his 20 tackle game against Georgia Tech. Hopefully he can repeat it against Clemson.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Twenty tackles by a player in a college football game doesn’t happen often, and usually it’s done by a linebacker.
Occasionally a defensive back might come up with that many. But a defensive lineman – a tackle, to be specific? Just doesn’t happen.
Unless you're Joe Vellano of Maryland.
The fourth-year junior from Rexford, NY, was credited with 20 tackles, including 14 solo stops, in the Terps’ 21-16 loss to Georgia Tech last weekend. It was the most tackles by a defensive lineman since the NCAA began compiling single-game tackles in 2005.
The feat was accomplished on the road, meaning Georgia Tech’s statisticians were doing the counting. And they might have missed a couple.
“He had 22 tackles by our (coaches’) count,” said Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson, “and it was the best that I can ever remember against one of my teams at that position.”
Johnson said Vellano read his keys well and played at full throttle the whole game, playing as hard on his 81st snap as he did on the first.
“I mean, he was making plays on guys 20 yards down the field,” Johnson said. “He tackled the receiver once. He tackled the pitch sometimes. He was tackling the quarterback. He just plays hard. My hat's off to him. I told him after the game that was as good as anybody has played against one of my teams.”
Vellano has terrific bloodlines. His father, Paul, played at Maryland in the early 1970s and was a two-time All-ACC defensive lineman who earned some All-America recognition as a senior.
The younger Vellano took a redshirt season in 2008, played five games as a backup in 2009 and started all 13 games last season. When new coach Randy Edsall went to work watching tape of the players he inherited, Vellano stood out.
“The thing that impressed me was how hard he played,” Edsall said. “Joe has a motor, a really active, high-energy motor, and he plays very hard.”
Vellano has learned the techniques of defensive line coach Greg Gattuso and is extremely coachable, listening to tips that enable him to play half a step faster.
From the sidelines, Edsall knew Vellano had played well. Upon reviewing the tape, his impression was confirmed.
“It was just a tremendous performance by Joe, just was giving great effort on each and every play,” Edsall said. “He just did a great job of preparing during the week, did a great job of reading his keys, and really a lot of it just came down to hustling and running to the ball and basically doing his job.
“So now we can use that to teach our other kids about just taking care of your responsibilities and playing hard, and now we want to see him do that again this week. But I'm sure he'll draw a little bit more attention since he had that kind of performance.”
He certainly has drawn the attention of Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose unbeaten Tigers visit the Terps this week.
“It's a rare thing when you see a defensive tackle have 20 tackles,” Swinney said. “That's really amazing. That just kind of epitomizes the kind of player that he is. He's a high-motor, high-energy, aggressive, going-to-play-every-snap kind of guy.
“The kind of game he had last week is one that as a D-tackle you would dream about. But we'll have to play well up front, and our guys are getting better. I think that we probably played our best game Saturday up front, and hopefully we can continue that trend and make sure that we don't have too many just one-on-ones with (number) 72.