COLLEGE PARK -- Last season, Maryland seemed to be perpetually waiting for Quinton Jefferson.
The promising, 6-foot-4 defensive end out of Woodland Hills High in Pennsylvania — once considered a major recruiting "get" for Maryland and coach Randy Edsall — seemed to bounce around the depth chart, never quite securing a spot. He found himself at times demoted to the scout team, testing coaches' patience.
Each season, there are players who seem to show up renewed. This spring, Maryland believes Jefferson is among the players moving closer to fulfilling expectations.
With spring practice ending Friday night with the Red-White game at Byrd Stadium, here are five returning players who, coaches believe, might be poised for breakout seasons:
Quinton Jefferson, sophomore defensive end
Jefferson has the potential to aid Maryland's pass rush — the Terps lost sack leaders Joe Vellano and Darin Drakeford — and to keep Greg Gattuso, the animated defensive line coach, from being constantly hoarse.
"He's been good this spring," Gattuso said Wednesday. "He's consistently graded out the highest on the defensive line. He's improved his pass-rushing ability. He's improved his effort level to the point where I don't have to yell at him on every play."
Jefferson, who worked in the stockroom at a Best Buy before enrolling at Maryland, seems to have better embraced college life.
"It's off the field as well as on the field," Gattuso said. "Not that he's a bad kid, but it's being on time, going to class, doing things the right way. If you don't have that under control, it's really hard to be a great football player."
Albert Reid, sophomore running back
The darting running back didn't find enough holes to run through last season. He seemed to never quite have enough space to show his talents and was often swallowed up near the line. He finished with 92 yards.
This spring, running backs coach Andre Powell says Reid is seeing the defense better and reacting to it more quickly.
"Albert has done some things to make him much more efficient," Powell said. "He's worked on his leverage and his reactions to the defense. Some of it is mental and some of it is physical."
Brandon Ross, Wes Brown, Reid and Joe Riddle are expected to compete for time at running back. Last season, the Terps, who finished 4-8, averaged 103 rushing yards per game, 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference
Ideally, Maryland would like to have one running back emerge and win the bulk of the carries in 2013.
But Powell noted that the Ravens — with Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce — demonstrated how backs can complement one another. "They had two guys that were pretty good," Powell said.
Mike Madaras, sophomore offensive lineman
Madaras was a rare player last season for longtime offensive line coach Tom Brattan — a freshman starter.
Freshmen typically are not as strong or mature as upperclassmen.
"I don't think you want a true freshman to come in and start," Brattan said.