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Football: Fairview’s Aidan Atkinson looks Northwestern’s way for college play

Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson announced his verbal commitment to Big 10's Northwestern on Sunday. Atkinson, a junior, has been one of Colorado's highly touted recruits for the past two years.
Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer
Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson announced his verbal commitment to Big 10’s Northwestern on Sunday. Atkinson, a junior, has been one of Colorado’s highly touted recruits for the past two years.

BOULDER – This fall football season has been one crazy ride for Aidan Atkinson.

Fairview’s junior quarterback has experienced both record-setting highs and injury-induced lows this fall and on Sunday, he realized a dream that most prep athletes of his caliber hope will one day come true. Both on Twitter and via text to, Atkinson officially announced that he has committed to play football at Northwestern University in 2020.

One of Colorado’s top prep football players has found his future home.

“Going through the whole recruitment process I wanted to go to a school that had more than just football,” Atkinson said. “Northwestern is one of the best schools in the country and their business school is also one of the best there is. With Chicago being so close and with them winning the Big 10 West, all of the variables were really appealing and in terms of what I wanted in a school there wasn’t anything they didn’t have.

“I’m extremely excited to play football there but also when I graduate, I want to have a degree and an education that will give me a lot of options for my future. Northwestern just checked all the boxes.”

Atkinson announced his commitment a day after Northwestern claimed its first Big 10 West title with a 14-10 win over Iowa on Saturday. Atkinson said he was impressed by the school and the football team while on his visit to Northwestern during the weekend of Sept. 29-30, when the Wildcats lost just 20-17 to No. 4 Michigan. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Knights signal-caller said he was blown away by Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald and his coaching staff, which will add Atkinson as one of its first commits of the 2020 class.

The Wildcats are getting a player who set Colorado’s 11-man football record for passing yards in a single game with 687 yards against Legacy on Sept. 27. He also set the state’s single-season touchdown record at 55 in 2018 despite his junior season being cut short in the Knights’ regular-season finale by a thumb injury that has since been surgically repaired. He threw just seven interceptions this season and needed just 230 yards to break Colorado’s all-time record for single-season passing yards.

Atkinson becoming Colorado’s all-time passing leader was a near inevitability had he not been injured in the regular-season finale. He was even more disappointed to have missed out on a potentially deep playoff run with the Knights, who were eliminated in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs with a 30-13 loss to ThunderRidge on Friday.

Finalizing a major piece of his future with Sunday’s commitment, however, relieved some of Atkinson’s disappointment from sitting out this postseason.

“When I got hurt, I just looked at it like I could beat myself up over it or I could come out with a positive mindset,” Atkinson said. “There’s nothing I could have done to change it so I just continued to be happy for the team, support my teammates and help them get ready for the playoffs.

“Making my commitment gives me a sense of confidence knowing that I’m going to a place that I really want to be. When I went out for my visit, it was really eye-opening that it was the right fit. Going into my senior season, I don’t have to worry about where I’ll play the next four years and I can just focus on getting my thumb back to one hundred percent and helping my team win.”

Before finally deciding on Northwestern, Atkinson had also considered offers from Akron, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Nevada, Ole Miss, Penn State and South Carolina.

Atkinson finished his junior season with 3,952 passing yards. He completed 62.5 percent (247 for 395) of his passing attempts, averaged 5.5 passing touchdowns per game and had a quarterback rating of 128.1, according to

Now that he is committed to being a Division-I quarterback, what Atkinson does as a senior between now and when he becomes a Wildcat should be special.

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