Since stepping onto the football field at Monmouth for the first time, it was clear that junior safety Mike Basile was different.
“It was amazing how quickly he was able to make the transition to college football,” Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan said. “With some players it takes more time. But it was very obvious right away that he has a very high football IQ, a great sense of awareness on the field and his ability to put himself in position to make plays is really uncanny. The combination of all those things made it very clear that he was going to be able to impact the game right away.”
The Brick Memorial product was named the Big South Rookie of the Year in 2014 after starting all 11 games and finishing second on the Hawks with 78 tackles. He followed that up with one of the best seasons in program history as a sophomore, when he set a single season record with 119 tackles and was named First Team All-Big South.
Basile led the Hawks once again in his junior year by recording 110 tackles, which was second in the Big South. He has started all 33 games in his collegiate career.
Coming from a local high school, Callahan wanted to make sure that Basile stayed close to home.
“He was a local player from the Shore Conference whom we had our eye on since his junior year,” Callahan said. “Our philosophy for recruiting has always been working from the inside out which means recruit locally first and then expand into other areas. He was certainly a very talented athlete and somebody that I thought would do very well here at Monmouth.”
That reflected strongly on Basile, who credited the attitudes of players and coaches with the program that ultimately led him to choosing Monmouth.
“The coaches showed me a lot of support out there, a lot more than other coaches,” said Basile, who was named First Team All-Big South for the second consecutive season. “Other coaches would just talk and say the stuff that I wanted to hear but the coaches here were true in what they were saying to me. I really liked that and the players here are a lot of local Shore Conference guys, so it was an easy choice for me.”
Basile was a two-way player at Brick Memorial under Head Coach Walt Currie, playing both safety and running back. Ed Sarluca coached Basile in football and basketball at Brick Memorial and is currently the school’s Athletics Director, and he spoke about the legacy that Basile has left behind at the school.
“Mike’s success at the collegiate level makes us all extremely proud at Brick Memorial. His hard work and commitment to success was second to none while he was a Mustang and we are not at all surprised (by) his successes now,” Sarluca said. “As an athlete, a leader, and a person, Mike has always been someone to model behavior after, and he certainly remains as much of a positive influence in our program today as when he was here. We look forward to watching him continue to excel in all platforms of life and remain extremely honored and humbled to be a part of his experiences.”
“Brick Memorial really gets you ready for the college level in terms of weight-lifting and all the little things in football,” Basile said. “They run a good program.”
Basile credits a lot of his success to former Monmouth cornerback Joe Johnson, who graduated in May 2016.
“He was with me at every meeting and he was like my big brother out there,” Basile said. “Having him on and off the field made everything easier because I was able to look up to him and see what he did that made him successful. I was able to follow in his footsteps and I want to thank Joe for that.”
“I really want to thank everybody on the team, especially my roommates Ryan Wetzel, Zach Talley, Alex Thompson, Russell Clayton, and Jake Powell for helping me be who I am on and off the field, Basile added.”
Basile came into Monmouth as a business major but is now a criminal justice major, and he stressed the importance of academics.
“Monmouth is a great school education-wise and coming here is awesome,” Basile said. “I got a great education at Brick Memorial but obviously, college is a lot different. I’m not just a football player, I’m a student-athlete and student comes before athlete so I always worry about my school work and then football.”
Should an opportunity to play professionally come up, Basile would not back down from the challenge and his coach believes he has his future in football is a bright one.
“That’s obviously every kid’s dream who plays football. I’ll work as hard as I can for this team and hopefully that will bring me to where I want to be,” Basile said.
“He has a great opportunity in front of him in his football career and he has a very bright future,” Callahan said.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University Athletics