Dan Atwood, a 6-foot-tall, 185-pound safety/halfback, is enjoying a stellar junior season. On offense, he's already broken the 1,000-yard rushing mark and scored 11 touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, meantime, he's picked off three passes -- including one he took for a 99-yard touchdown return -- forced six fumbles and averaged roughly 10 tackles a game.
"He's a safety that hits like a linebacker. He's unbelievable. Phenomenal closing speed," veteran Gaithersburg coach Kreg Kephart says. "There's no reason to believe he won't be one of the top 1A kids around here."
Atwood has been receiving an increasing amount of attention from traditional powerhouse programs. Michigan and Boston College have been in contact, and he recently has started getting mail from West Virginia Southern Cal. UConn may be close to offering as well.
He has been hearing from Maryland since he opened some eyes while camping at Maryland last summer, and it seems likely he'll be receiving an offer from the Terps at some point.
"They said I'm on the top of the list for next year's recruits," said Atwood, the only player in his school's history to start as a freshman. "Coach Sollazzo has been sending me a lot of stuff."
Atwood has been out to a few Terp games this season. But he said proximity to home is not a major factor in his recruitment; academics and playing time come first.
"I'm probably just going to wait until I have everything about all the schools and just take the best offer," said Atwood, who has not begun to focus much on his impending decision, and who seems unlikely to make an early decision.
He runs a 40-yard-dash in the 4.5-second range and has some of the best agility-drill times of several hundred seniors at the Maryland junior combine last summer. In a game against Churchill he won a foot race to the endzone against Vince Evans Jr., another likely Division I recruit with very good speed. When he was a freshman playing against Northwest, Atwood shut down then-senior Darren Brownlee (West Virginia).
Though running back is his favorite position, he also realizes that his future most likely will be as a defensive back.
"I'm not too sure. I'll play wherever they want me," Atwood said.
Atwood will be seeing more and more recruiting interest over the course of the next six months.
"As soon as people see his junior tape, it's going to take off," Kephart said. "I would think he'll probably pick up some offers in the spring or summer.”