Vea (6-4, 347) was chosen 12th overall, out of Washington, where he played in 40 career games, totaling 100 tackles (15 for loss), 9.5 sacks, six passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. In 2017, Vea won the Pac-12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year Award, as well as the Morris Trophy, given annually to the top defensive lineman in the Pac-12, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen. He was also a second-team All-American selection by USA Today, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and TheAthletic.com. The Milpitas, California native was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection by both the league’s coaches and the Associated Press in addition to finishing as a Bednarik Award semifinalist.
During his redshirt junior year (2017), Vea started all 13 games, recording 44 tackles (5.5 for loss), four passes defensed, 2.5 sacks and a blocked punt. He helped anchor Washington’s run defense, which ranked fourth in the NCAA in rushing yards allowed per game (100.9), while allowing only 2.86 yards per carry, the second-lowest mark in the NCAA, trailing only Alabama. Vea was part of a Washington defense that allowed only 16.1 points per game, the fifth-best mark in the country, and surrendered 298.0 yards per game, the eighth-fewest in the NCAA.