Past Experience — Vallone does not always put up big numbers, but eats the kind of space that allowed players like Justin Francis, Alex Silvestro and Eric LeGrand to make big plays alongside him on the defensive line.
A three-year starter, Vallone battled some injuries last year but still started every game for Rutgers and finished sixth on the team in tackles. He totaled 58 last year to go along with 8.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
As a Recruit — A three-star prospect out of St. Anthony's (Melville, N.Y.), Vallone ranked in as the No. 35 defensive tackle in the Class of 2008.
Vallone committed in June of 2007 over offers from Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Syracuse, Virginia and others. When he committed, he cited his relationship with head coach Greg Schiano and then-offensive line coach Kyle Flood, who recruited his area and is a fellow New Yorker.
Spring Performance — Vallone spent the spring rehabilitating from offseason shoulder surgery. He stayed limited in individual drills, but devoted his final spring campaign to studying film and helping younger defensive linemen pick up the defensive scheme.
Does Well Vallone's combination of explosiveness and technique make him one of the top defensive linemen in the Big East going into the 2012 season. Vallone is a film student and great run stuffer. For his size, he is among the best as a space eater.
Vallone used his hands well before defensive line coach Jim Panagos arrived and will be even more effective with him coaching the position. Panagos stresses technique and hands as much as possible and will look to Vallone to help lead a large, young group of defensive linemen.
Needs to Improve — Vallone is 25 pounds heavier than when he arrived at Rutgers, but could still benefit from bulking up a bit more this summer. At 275 pounds, Vallone is relatively undersized as a nose tackle, but may end up playing three-technique this year if Isaac Holmes continues his improvement.
Size is not a major issue at the college level, but will be when he pursues the NFL.
Long-Term Outlook — Defensive tackle is not traditionally a position with a lot of star power, but it will be for Rutgers this season with Vallone leading the way. With the exception of Khaseem Greene at linebacker, Vallone is the face of a Rutgers front seven that projects to be one of the stronger units in the conference.
A foot injury as a true freshman was a blessing in disguise for both Vallone and Rutgers because it gives him this season to put it all together. Vallone may not have the statistical season of defenders like Greene or safety Duron Harmon, but he will be an anchor.
After the season ends, look for Vallone's name to appear on many draft boards with the hope that he can add more mass going into the NFL.