Maryland Football Countdown: No. 72, Joe Vellano


With just 30 days until the Maryland opens the season on Sept. 5, TerrapinStationMD continues our series based on past Terrapins with Joe Vellano. We’ll continue to look at the most talented and/or popular player to wear the number and analyze their time in College Park. If you think of a player that had a big impact and is also associated with that number, leave a comment below.

The Maryland football program has struck gold recently with defensive linemen on the recruiting trail.

Former Maryland defensive tackle Joe Vellano was one of the more dominant defensive linemen that the Terps have had.

Vellano has football in his genes as his father Paul was a two-time All-ACC selection for the Terps back in the early 1970s. Joe and Paul Vellano were one of four father-son All-American duos in FBS history (Florida – Lee & Travis McGriff, Georgia – Kevin & Drew Butler, & Ole Miss – Archie & Eli Manning).

Vellano came to College Park as a two-star recruit out of the Christian Brother Academy in Albany. Maryland was his only offer with Boston College, Georgia Tech, Rutgers, and Syracuse showing interest.

The former Terp didn’t see the field a whole lot during his first two years in College Park. He redshirted during the 2008 campaign.

However, over his final three seasons, Vellano was one of the key cogs in the front seven for Maryland. During his career, the New York native recorded 219 tackles (105) and 13.5 sacks.

One of the plays that Vellano will always be known for is the fumble return touchdown against Miami in the 2011 season opener. Cornerback Cameron Chism forced the fumble and Vellano tipped the ball to himself and scampered for the momentum-altering touchdown. The Terps went on to upset the Hurricanes 32-24 to help usher in the Randy Edsall era.

Vellano was such an impressive player on the football field due to his relentless pursuit of the ball-carrier or quarterback. He was also pretty quick for a defensive tackle.

More from Maryland Football

The New York native is also a very physical defender and is a sound tackler. There were few offensive linemen during Vellano’s time in College Park that could stop him from penetrating the line of scrimmage.

The former Terp defensive tackle didn’t hear his name called on draft day, but did end up signing with the New England Patriots. Vellano has spent the last two seasons with the Patriots.

The 2013 season yielded a ton of playing time for the former Terp as he appeared in all 16 games (eight starts) and totaled 54 tackles (20 solo) and a pair of sacks. Part of the reason for Vellano’s extended playing time was star nose tackle Vince Wilfork going down in Week 4 that season.

2014 wasn’t quite as bright for Vellano. The former Maryland star only registered six tackles (three solo) and a sack for the Patriots.

With Wilfork having signed with the Houston Texans in the offseason, the expectation is that Vellano will see the field quite a bit more. In 2013, Vellano certainly showed that he has the talent to be productive at the NFL level.

Vellano will always be remembered as one of the key members of the class that helped open the Edsall era at Maryland. He was also part of the 2012 team that saw linebacker Shawn Petty take snaps at quarterback after Perry Hills, Devin Burns, and Caleb Rowe all suffered season-ending injuries.

He will remain one of the most productive and great stories in Maryland’s history.

More from Terrapin Station