- Andrea Adelson, College Football
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No. 14 Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland
2012 stats: Vellano made the coaches and media All-ACC first team after finishing fifth in the league with a career-high 14 tackles for loss and tied for eighth with a career-high six sacks. He also had 61 tackles in 12 games. His average of 5.1 tackles per game was good enough to list him among the Top 50 ACC tacklers.
Previous ranking: No. 8
Making the case: Though Vellano had fewer total tackles in 2012 than he did the year before (94), he was much more productive behind the line of scrimmage, and that might have been a result of a scheme change under new defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. Consider he nearly doubled his total tackles for loss, and had 3.5 more sacks than last season. But perhaps even more impressive was his ability to play through injury virtually the entire season.
Vellano sprained his ankle in early November and was not nearly as effective in the final month of the season because of it. Still, he never missed a start and made as many plays as he could, a testament to the type of leader he has been for the Terps over the past several seasons. That injury did not preclude him from making the ACC first-team for the second straight season.
No. 14 Joe Vellano, DL, Maryland2012 stats: Vellano made the coaches and media All-ACC first team after finishing fifth in the league with a career-high 14 tackles for loss and tied for eighth with a career-high six sacks.