Whitman sophomore Pat Lazear always has been bigger than his peers.
He weighed 11 pounds when he was born, and throughout youth football he had to play in divisions full of older children -- when he was in eighth grade he had to find an unlimited-weight league in Virginia.
But it was mental toughness, not physical size, that allowed him to start at linebacker for the Vikings last season as a freshman.
Lazear's father, Whitman assistant coach Harry Lazear, "kept saying, 'He'll start for you on varsity as a freshman,' and we all said, 'Yeah, right,' " Whitman Coach Dean Swink said. "I figured the mental part would be tough for him. But our first scrimmage with Seneca Valley, he wasn't the least bit intimidated. You can't teach that. That's what enables him to go out there and play beyond his years."
Lazear's size doesn't hurt either, however. This year, Lazear is 6 feet 1, 210 pounds. He can bench press 315 pounds, and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds.
"I saw his dad in the offseason, and I said, 'I'm going to have to see his birth certificate,' " Gaithersburg Coach Kreg Kephart said.
"It's pretty unusual to see somebody that young who's that physically impressive," added Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini.
Lazear led the Vikings in tackles last season, was second in interceptions and split time at fullback -- primarily blocking for Whitman tailbacks. He received some feelers in the offseason from private schools, but "I pretty much said I'm staying right away," Lazear said.
This year, Lazear is back at outside linebacker and has made 19 tackles in the Vikings' first two games. But he also has become Whitman's top offensive threat. He has gained a team-high 316 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 43 carries for the Vikings, who have started 2-0 for the second straight year.
"Coach told me in the beginning of spring training and during the summer that I'd get more carries," said Lazear, who has received interest from Division I colleges. "He worked me pretty hard to get prepared for it. I definitely like it."
So much so, Swink said, that Lazear balks at coming out of games.
"He has that desire," Swink said. "He said he wants to be the best to ever come through here. Not one of the best, the best. And when you challenge him, he's a very, very dominant force."