There was a time, not all that long ago, when Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen wondered whether Joe Vellano would ever play for the Terrapins.
He grayshirted. Then the injuries stacked up, enough of them to create concern Vellano's career would be over before it started.
So in that regard, the defensive tackle's turn as one of Maryland's spring stars is a bit of a surprising turn.
"He had two shoulder injuries," Friedgen said. "One, he got operated on and then he practiced for half a practice and hurt the other one. He was out for two years, essentially. Then last year, he came in and was showing a lot of signs and then he broke his foot. So he's had some injuries. This is the first time for this length of time he's stayed healthy."
And it's making a difference for the Maryland defensive line.
Friedgen said Vellano is probably the Terps' most productive defensive lineman this spring. After a recent practice, he estimated Vellano was making a play one out of four snaps. By comparison, the one returning starter --- A.J. Francis --- was checking in around one out of seven or eight snaps.
The great question in assessing Vellano (and any other defensive lineman, for that matter) is figuring out how much Maryland's offensive line woes are contributing to a player's apparent unblockability.
If that's the case, it won't be exposed until September. But everyone on the defensive front is dealing with the same offensive linemen, so Friedgen isn't going to shy away from pointing out Vellano's strong spring as a highlight.
"He runs like 5.1 ... but Vellano's extremely quick," Friedgen said. "Just doing the stuff [defensive coordinator] Don [Brown] does, it really plays to his strength. I just see him making more plays than Travis Ivey did. I see him go against [Andrew] Gonnella, and it's 50-50. He'll beat Gonnella sometimes and Gonnella will beat him sometimes. Be as it is, you can't fault a kid for making plays. I mean, he's making them. It's not like he's not making them."