Joe Vellano has been one very bright spot in an otherwise dismal year. It's good to see, then, that he made the All-ACC First Team, the only Terrapin to do so. In fact, he was the only Maryland player on either the first or second teams, and only Demetrius Hartsfield cracked the "Others Receiving Votes" category.
Vellano led all DTs in tackles nationally despite operating in a defense that was oftentimes patchwork, starting a true freshman at defensive end and several true freshmen linebackers. It's no surprise that he made the list; what is a surprise is that he only garnered 68 votes. I'm not sure any defensive tackle on the conference was on the same planet Joe's been on all year in terms of productivity.
And remember that Vellano is only a junior, and if I had to guess I'd say he's likely to return next year. The NFL, while it may call at some point, might have concerns about his size (despite his extraordinary productivity, 6-2 and 285 is a bit small for a pro DT). If he does come back, that means everyone, minus David Mackall, is returning to the front seven of the defense. And I also think he'll stand a pretty good chance at joining his father, Paul, as a Maryland All-American.