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Maryland Football: Terps' Jefferson has another chance to impress at pro day

Maryland Football: Terps' Jefferson has another chance to impress at pro day
Maryland defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) (Michael Conroy / AP)

When he began his NFL draft journey in December, Quinton Jefferson knew there was more at stake for him than other prospects with what he was leaving behind and what lay before him.

While the former Maryland defensive lineman traveled to South Florida to train with Bommarito Performance Systems, his wife and three young daughters stayed behind in Maryland, limiting him to only FaceTime interactions outside of a visit from his wife, Nadia.

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But in the time away, Jefferson helped to solidify his draft stock, and that could help him provide for his family in the future. It was the whole reason why he declared for the draft after his redshirt junior season in the first place.

"It was a little more difficult and different for me," Jefferson said last weekend. "A lot of people, they can go away for training, but they have nothing to leave behind."

Jefferson returns to Maryland on Wednesday for the school's pro day, which will give Jefferson and a host of other former Terps, including defensive back Sean Davis, defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue and kicker Brad Craddock, the chance to show off their skills for NFL scouts again.

Jefferson is confident that his performance in the fall — 12 1/2 tackles for loss and 6 1/2 sacks in 12 healthy starts — along with his workouts at the Reese's Senior Bowl in January and the NFL Scouting Combine in February has him firmly on draft boards across the league. On nfldraftscout.com, Jefferson is rated as the No. 22 defensive tackle in a deep draft.

"Everyone knows I can play ball," Jefferson said. "It's just one of those, 'Who's going to take a shot on me?'"

Before the season started, Jefferson met with former Maryland coach Randy Edsall and told him he intended to have 2015 be his final season of college football because of his family situation. But he didn't feel any extra pressure to perform, and even with the gaudy numbers for an interior lineman, he felt like he was performing at a higher level in 2014 when his season was cut short by a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"I actually felt like I was playing better then than I played this year," Jefferson said. "I just so happened to get injured that year. If I played the same number of plays, I felt like I would have put up some crazy numbers. ... It didn't affect me because I was playing how I always play. I try to go out there and make plays."

After the season ended in late November, Jefferson took his time to get his affairs in order before he announced he was forgoing his final season of eligibility in College Park. He wanted to take his time to do research on the right agency to sign with — he chose Goal Line Football — and where to train. It was only then that he announced on Twitter that he was departing Maryland.

Since then, he's been training to show what he can do on the field and that his numbers in college could translate to the pros. He said the combine was full of long days, including one where he had to get up at 3 a.m. to get ready for a day of meetings with teams. But he feels like he left the impression of a player who is ready to contribute at the next level.

"A lot of guys get more publicized than me," Jefferson said. "I'm not really into that because I know at the end of the day, what happens in the dark comes to light. I know I can play ball. As long as I believe in myself, that's all that matters. I know if I make a team, I know what I can bring to it, I know I can get on the field, I know I can play."

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