By Matt Sugam
PISCATAWAY – When you scour down the stat sheet, there’s nothing particularly eye-popping about the numbers under Scott Vallone’s name. That’s just how things go for a nose tackle.
But if you look beyond the in-game stats, there’s one number that jumps off the page. 50.
That’s the number of games Vallone will have started come Thursday night. From the home opener against Cincinnati as a redshirt freshman in 2009 to the final game of the season this Thursday night against Louisville in his senior season, Vallone’s started every game in the trenches. A rarity for an interior lineman.
“Just been very lucky and I’m just excited about it,” Vallone said. “But it’s something that when I move on I’ll definitely be able to look back on and be excited about but there’s no time to dwell on it right now.”
Instead, there’s a game to focus on. And the biggest one of Vallone’s career, as the winner represents the Big East in a BCS Bowl.
Still, Vallone knows his accomplishment is one that few can say they’ve achieved. Some are suspended, some get benched, or more than likely, they get injured. That’s something the Central Islip, NY native knows. And he’s played through his fair share of aches and pains.
“You get a couple things,” Vallone said of injuries. “Stingers, ankle injuries, shoulders, wrists, hands always hurt as a d-linemen, so it’s just little things like that.”
Playing through those bumps and bruises is something Vallone’s head coach lauded him for.
“To me it’s unheard of. You just don’t see it. A guy who plays in there and goes to war the way he does every game, they generally get nicked up a little bit and they’re going to miss some time,” Flood said. “But he has been in such tremendous condition and he’s so tough, that week in and week out he’s able to go out there and do it again and do it at a very high level.
“Scott is a tremendous example for our program of how to be tough. He sets the standard for toughness for defensive linemen in our program.”
Despite the rarity of his accomplishment, it’s not one that surprises Vallone. The 6-foot-3, 275-pounder had hoped things would turn out this way when he made his first career start during his first game.
“Honestly, when I started my first game I was like ‘oh, this is cool. There’s a chance that I’ll be able to start a whole bunch of games at this place’ and I kind of was aware that was a possibility,” Vallone said. “But just in the midst of it you kind of lose track of it. But when the season’s over I think I’ll be able to look on it and have more of an appreciation.”
Still, it’s not the most impressive accolade in Vallone’s career. The one he’d be most proud of is still hanging in the balance.
”I think the biggest stat will definitely be hopefully winning this conference championship,” Vallone said. “Sole winners, going to a BCS game, being a part of the first senior class to do that, that’s going to be exciting.”