Ben Romano has the type of athletic skills that translate well to any sport, be it on the football field, basketball court or baseball diamond.
“Ben is an amazing athlete,” says Tom Monfiletto, his baseball coach at The Hun School in Princeton. “He could be a Division 1 football player. He can dunk a basketball and he is an insane athlete on the baseball field. He’s fun to coach and watch.”
Romano, 18, passes the eye test right away at 6-2, 200 pounds. And he moves with speed and efficiency on a baseball diamond.
Now that Romano’s football career as a wideout and defensive back at Hun has ended, the senior bound for Tulane in September will turn 100 percent of his focus to baseball. Romano is one of several outstanding players returning to the Hun roster for the 2022 season for what should be a particularly special season.
That is saying a lot considering most of the same players returning from last spring were responsible for the team’s 19-2 record and the 2021 Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship. Hun will, indeed, be loaded for the 2022 season and Romano will be right in the middle of the Raiders’ lineup.
It will be interesting to watch Romano’s progression in baseball over the next year or two now that he will be focused solely on baseball. That said, there’s no doubt that Romano’s three-sport endeavor has benefited him greatly from an athleticism point of view, considering the demands and intricacies of each sport.
“You can implement what you do in one sport to the others,” said Romano.
Romano, a Diamond Jack out of Diamond Nation since he was 13 years old, committed early to Tulane. He, in fact, gave his verbal to the Green Wave at the start of his junior year at Hun and after a terrific summer of 2020 with the Diamond Jacks. That was a creative time for both recruits and college coaches considering the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down baseball at all levels from March through July 1. Tulane, like every other Division 1 baseball program in the country, was precluded by the NCAA from recruiting players in person. So, players like Romano had to “go to the videotape” as the saying goes.
College coaches used Zoom or Facetime to interview players and players sent game action videos of themselves to show their recruiters what they could do on a baseball diamond. And it was a summer in which Steve DiTrolio, Diamond Nation’s director of recruiting, spent endless hours contacting coaches for Diamond Jacks players.
“Coach Monfiletto started sending clips to schools that summer,” said Romano. “He sent some to Tulane, too. I didn’t know a lot about the school at that point. Coach came back to me and said they were interested.”
Romano placed a phone call to Tulane’s head coach, Travis Jewett, then in just his third year at the New Orleans school. “Coach Jewett talked about his program and I trusted what he had to say. Coach Monfiletto had also been down to Tulane years ago and watched them practice. He said he loved the environment there and the energy they played with. He thought I would like it there.”
By then, Romano was considering several other attractive Division 1 programs and Maryland, Elon and Oklahoma State were front and center. A visit to Tulane in July of 2020 would make Romano’s decision a bit clearer.
“I visited Tulane in July with my parents and really liked it,” said Romano. “I liked the location of the school and knew it was a great academic school.”
Romano wouldn’t take his official visit to Tulane until this past November, but the two-night stay cemented his feelings about his college choice.
“That was great,” he said. “I finally got to meet the coaches and experience what it’s like being part of the team. I had lunch with coach (Jay) Uhlman and coach (Adam) Core. Then we went to the field and I met some of the players. I watched their scrimmage and you can see their energy and how close friends they are. I knew I made the right decision at that point.”
Romano’s junior season at Hun was a very good one for the team and for Romano, who provided plenty of punch from the No. 5 spot in the stacked Raiders lineup. His 2021 high school numbers revealed the depth and diversity of his game. The outfielder batted .431, scored 23 runs, hit five home runs, delivered 18 RBI and stole 22 bases in 21 games. His OPS was a staggering 1.445.
“Ben brings an amazing energy to games and practices,” says Monfiletto. “He’s become a leader and his energy is contagious. What’s very obvious is how much fun he has in the game. He’s one of the most fun people I’ve coached.”
Romano admits it wasn’t that long ago that he believed he would be pursuing a college scholarship in football.
“Football was the sport I always wanted to play,” said Romano. “After my sophomore year of football I still thought that was the way I was going. But once I started to commit to baseball I fell back in love with it and it became my main sport.”
Romano started at cornerback and wideout for Hun the past three seasons, including playing the most snaps on the field during the team’s 9-0 season in 2021.
“Ben is a great teammate and competitor,” said Monfiletto. “He could have been a Division I player in football if he wanted to. He wears a ‘Bo Knows’ shirt because he loves Bo Jackson.”
The Chester resident spent his 2021 summer with the Diamond Jacks Super 17U squad under the direction of coach Kevin Cust, who knows a little bit about being a well-rounded athlete. Cust hit 16 home runs his senior year of high school at Immaculata and could, like Romano, dunk a basketball. Cust, who played in the minor leagues for Atanta, is busy now helping young ball players like Romano to hone their skills on the diamond.
“I’ve gotten a lot of instruction from coach Cust over the years,” says Romano. “His approach is, hey if you want it you have to go get it.”
Cust believes Romano has the ability to achieve what he wishes. “Ben is put together physically,” says Cust, “and he has the skills necessary to play at the Division 1 level.”
Romano has also had a very big appreciation for Monfiletto’s input over the past couple seasons.
“Coach Monfiletto always has a positive outlook,” said Romano. “He works hard to make sure we stay focused on a common goal.”
Romano’s focus for now is on his preparation for his final baseball season at Hun.
“I’m working right now on my baseball movements, flexibility, mobility and getting my legs stronger,” he said. “My lower body is the target right now.”
Hun will have a target on its chest when its season begins in the spring. The perennial Prep school and statewide powerhouse routinely plays one of the most difficult schedules in the state.
“We play teams like Don Bosco Prep, St. Joseph (Met.) and Seton Hall Prep, teams loaded with Division 1 kids and coached by really good coaches,” says Monfiletto. “We try to play the best teams in the state. It’s the best way to prepare our kids for the college game.”
Tulane thanks you, coach.