Joe Vellano was excellent in spring practice.
He might have been better in Maryland's season opener.
And that's arguably the most impressive individual slice of the Terrapins' 17-14 defeat of Navy yesterday in Baltimore.
Vellano isn't the first defensive player in recent years to receive raves for his Herculean work in spring ball. But so often --- how to put this? --- those awesome Aprils turn into so-so Septembers when Maryland's defensive players are forced to face other teams.
That history, far more than the fact it was difficult to get a read on any of the Terrapins since nearly all of spring and preseason practices were closed to the media, is why Vellano seemed like a good candidate to quietly fade into the background and have a solid but unremarkable season.
Instead, the redshirt sophomore had 10 tackles and two sacks against Navy and was arguably the most valuable player on a defense that had plenty of stars (Kenny Tate and Adrian Moten among them) in the victory.
And for those wondering how often defensive tackles get 10 stops at Maryland, there's a chart for that:
TOP SINGLE-GAME TACKLE TOTALS, MARYLAND DTs 2001-10
||2001||at Florida State
||2002||at West Virginia
That's not bad company.
Of course, it's only one game, and maybe Vellano won't ever match this sort of performance (it would be unfair to expect it since 10-tackle days are hard to come by for a defensive tackle). But there's at least some evidence his strong spring was a function of talent rather than his opposition, and that's something Maryland fans should be as encouraged about as anything.