A recurring series where we will profile every player and coach on Maryland’s roster, counting down to kick-off against Miami. Thanks to OBNUG for the idea.
Today we profile one of the more-hyped prospects in Maryland’s 2011 recruiting class.
Quinton Jefferson, Freshman, Defensive End
Ratings: Three stars, #25 in Pennsylvania by Rivals; three stars, #47 defensive end by Scout; three stars, #40 defensive end by ESPN
40-yard dash time: 4.5
High School Stats (senior season): 80+ tackles, 16 sacks
High School: Woodland Hills High School (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
How’d He Get To College Park?
Quinton Jefferson was the first recruit brought to Maryland by Randy Edsall, and many (myself included) figured it was a result of Edsall’s Western Pa. connections and the hiring of Greg Gattuso. In fact, it was Lee Hull and Ryan Steinberg, two members of Ralph Friedgen’s staff, who were able to bring Jefferson in. Even with the status of their jobs in limbo, Hull and Steinberg continued to call Jefferson every day, giving him updates on the Maryland situation and recruiting him to College Park. Their efforts no doubt had big influence on two events – Jefferson came to Maryland, and they both kept their jobs.
Jefferson was one of the top prospects in the state of Pennsylvania in the 2011 class, and was an absolutely stacked Woodland Hills defense. Two defensive backs (Lafayette and Jevonte Pitts) both went to Pitt, linebacker Ejuan Price is headed to Ohio State, and defensive tackle James Price is going to Akron. 2012 outside linebacker Mike Caprara is being courted by a host of Big Ten schools, and then you’ve got Jefferson, who chose Maryland over Cincinnati, Iowa, West Virginia and Wisconsin, among others.
More after the jump.
Hull and Steinberg being retained by the coaching staff
Arbitrary Top Six List:
Defensive ends on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Fabulous 22:
1. Justin Haser
2. Rob Kugler
3. Desimon Green
4. Paul Lang
5. Quinton Jefferson
6. Branden Jackson
Jefferson impresses the coaches immediately, putting on weight and competing for playing time at defensive end – either as the starter at D-End with Clarence Murphy or as the backup at ROCK with Isaiah Ross, moving Ross over to end.
Jefferson struggles to adjust to the new weight, taking a year to adjust and redshirt.
When going over Maryland’s 2011 prospects, four highlight tapes stand out more than the rest – those of Tyler Cierski, Justus Pickett, Jeremiah Hendy, and Quinton Jefferson. When you watch Jefferson’s highlight tape, the first thing that sticks out is his length. He’s got a huge wingspan, and uses it over and over and over again to deflect passes off the line, forcing some turnovers in the process. He seems to be the perfect fit for Maryland’s new ROCK position – a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position. At Woodland Hills, Jefferson played end when they used a 4-3 set up and outside linebacker when they used a 3-4, preparing him for that ROCK role.
The main concern with Jefferson is his size and strength. He was listed at 6’2″, 225 by Rivals, but he’s made his way up to at least 240 already, a much better spot for a defensive lineman but he still has a way to go. Unlike most defensive linemen, you don’t see those popping, drive them back hits that you’d like to see on the highlight tape, and the absence of those is something else that stands out.
However, he’s still one of the best recruits in Maryland’s 2011 class. He’s got fantastic speed off the edge (able to run down some of those running backs in the Pittsburgh area), and that length will definitely come in handy. Even those he was a little undersized in high school, he has a nice 6’4″ frame that should be able to hold on to that weight that he needs to gain to be an effective ACC defensive end.
One of the more impressive plays on his tape is actually buried quite deep, at the 3:05 mark of this video. You can see pass deflections and his football awareness throughout the tape, but at that 3:05 point he’s able to chase the running back down around the edge and make a good form tackle. The play after that one, as well, shows one of the more impressive sacks on the tape. At the 3:59 point, the pass rushing ability and speed really come out, as he forces the QB into an incompletion.
Some people have made the (very) early comparison to a young Shawn Merriman, and it’s easy to see. He’s incredibly athletic, has great speed, and is a terror off the edge. Think Maryland could use another one of those?
Because of all these skills that he just has naturally, he’s without a doubt one of the premier candidates to get playing time as a true freshman in Maryland’s 2011 class. The Terps have one of the best strength programs in the country, so Q-Jeff should put on quite a bit of muscle very quickly, and don’t be surprised to see him chasing down Clarence Murphy and Isaiah Ross for their jobs.
Our next profile is one of two Maryland assistant coaches to have served time as a collegiate head coach.