Top opposing defensive tackles

We're less than two months away from the start of the season and it's time to take a look at the top defensive tackles Clemson will see in 2012.

1. Joe Vellano, Maryland
2011: Vellano had 94 tackles, including 7.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries en route to a first-team All-ACC selection. He was also named second-team All-American by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

Vellano was first among FCS defensive linemen with 7.8 tackles per game. His best performance of the season came against Georgia Tech when he recorded 20 tackles.

Against Clemson, Vellano had 11 tackles.

What he's doing here: Though he may not test well when preparing for next year's NFL Draft, Vellano's produced at too high of a level for many teams to look over him. He could play end in a 3-4 scheme [like he will this season] or tackle in a 4-3.

As a sophomore, Vellano was named second-team All-ACC. He's a sure-fire preseason first-team selection and will be in the running for the league's defensive player of the year award.

Vellano has started the last 25 games at defensive tackle. For his career, he has 18 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks.

Earlier this week, he was named to the Bednarik Award watch list, which is given to the nation's top defensive player.

2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
2011: Jernigan played in all 13 games as a freshman, recording 30 tackles [16 solo, 14 assist], 2.5 sacks and six tackles for loss. He also recovered one fumble.

He was named to the Freshman All-America team and was runner-up for ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Against Clemson, Jernigan had four tackles.

What he's doing here: As a senior at Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla., Jernigan recorded 77 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and one interception and also ran for four touchdowns on offense. ranked him as the No. 4 defensive tackle in the class of 2011.

The interior of Florida State's defensive line is stock full of young talent and Jernigan may be the most talented of the bunch. By the time he's a junior, he'll be one of the top defensive tackle prospects for the NFL.

3. Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina
2011: During his first season at South Carolina, Quarles played in 12 of 13 games, starting each of the final six contests. He was in on 28 tackles and two tackles for loss. Quarles also had four quarterback hurries.

He was named second-team Freshman All-American by

Against Clemson, Quarles did not record a tackle.

What he's doing here: Quarles spent his first season away from Greenwood High School at Fork Union Military Academy. As a senior at Greenwood in 2009, Quarles racked up 77 tackles, nine sacks, 17.5 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries [one for touchdown] and two blocked kicks. He was named a U.S. Army All-American. Top Stories