Julian Dunn’s hometown has existed for three centuries but will forever be associated with one day of incomprehensible carnage.

He knows this and has come to anticipate the questions whenever he informs someone he is from Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

No, he wasn’t at the elementary school on Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman killed 26 people – 20 of them students – and then himself. Dunn was on a bowling field trip with his classmates at Newtown High School, where he was a sophomore, and can vividly recall the feelings of confusion and helplessness that overcame him.

“Everything got crazy, then the numbers (of dead) were going up and up,” said Dunn, who signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play football at the University of Maine. “You just had no concept of what to do. It was just that sense of ‘What do I do? What can I do?’ ”

Dunn since has been part of the slow and ongoing healing in his town of 28,000, located 60 miles north of New York City.

Dunn attended Sandy Hook Elementary, as did his three younger brothers. All had moved on from the school by the day of the massacre, however. The school has been demolished, replaced by a newer version. Still, there’s no escaping the sorrow.

“We’ve come together as a community and basically said there’s nothing we can do other than be there for people,” Dunn said. “People are curious and I’m personally fine answering questions about it, but I know some people are touchy about the subject. Everyone tells you how sorry they are. As much as you’re thankful that they’re sorry, it’s like, ‘Yeah, I get it, let’s talk about something else.’ ”

When Dunn returned to the football field as a junior tight end/linebacker/punter/kicker the next fall, his Newtown High School team eschewed its normal blue-and-gold uniforms for a green-and-white version that mimicked the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary.

“It gives you something to play for, for the town,” he said.

Dunn was the star. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, he was a force in the team’s spread offense, lining up wide but frequently in motion into the backfield or out into a passing pattern. On Thanksgiving, he caught his 49th touchdown pass, breaking the state record held by former New England Patriot and current murder defendant Aaron Hernandez.

“People tell me, ‘I’m happy his name’s out of the record book,’ ” Dunn said.

Dunn drew attention from schools such as Temple and Connecticut after his freshman year and spent his next three summers attending football camps at universities throughout the Northeast. Maine assistant coach Greg Webster visited, as did head coach Jack Cosgrove. Dunn narrowed his choices to Buffalo, Lehigh, Sacred Heart and Maine. UConn fell out of the running when a new coach (Bob Diaco) came in and told Dunn he wanted to use his tight ends more like guards in a power-running formation. That didn’t suit Dunn’s vision of his collegiate playing career.

Dunn visited Orono on Jan. 23-24 and told Cosgrove the next day that he wanted to be a Black Bear. On Wednesday, he officially joined a 22-player recruiting class that is heavy on offensive linemen and tight ends. Dunn wants to put on 10-15 pounds and projects to fill the H-back role that the graduated Carlton Charles played in recent seasons.

Dunn also played basketball and baseball at Newtown. His father felt baseball was his best sport, but Dunn’s dream from his freshman year on was to play Division I college football. The honor-roll student also decided early on that he wants to be a dentist, and intends to major in biology and minor in chemistry at Maine. He plans to make the six-hour drive north to watch some of Maine’s spring practices when they begin April 9. He is working with a personal trainer to get stronger and faster. Like all recruits, he would like to make an impact as a freshman.

“As big and as strong and as fast as you want to think you are in high school, you’re not when it comes to college. You can’t expect anything to be handed to you,” said Dunn with a worldliness that belies his youth.

“I’ve seen a lot of schools. I’ve traveled a lot of miles. But Maine was the right spot for me.”