By Jean DePlacido
---- — Anthony Bongiorno has the size, skill, and academic excellence that college coaches are looking for.
The starting tight end/defensive end for the 2012 Super Bowl champion St. John’s Prep team had his pick of several outstanding schools. However after making his final visit to Amherst College a couple of weeks ago his mind was set on playing football there the next four years.
The Marblehead resident, who is 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, is a Catholic Conference first team all-star. He has been a two-way starter for the Eagles the past two years and is that big target every quarterback would love to throw the ball to.
Bongiorno has a 4.37 GPA and scored 2240 on his SAT’s. His name always shows up on the Headmaster’s List for the Prep’s best students. He looked at a lot of Division 1 and Ivy League schools with Dartmouth, Harvard, and Princeton high on his list. UMass Amherst and BC also expressed interest, but after a long search Bongiorno found everything he was looking for in Amherst.
“First and foremost it’s a great academic institution,” he said. “I felt very comfortable there. Coach (E.J.) Mills is the type person I wanted to play for, and their offense throws 40 or more times a game which is perfect for me. They’ve also got a tall quarterback, who shouldn’t have any trouble finding me.”
The Lord Jeffs won have 28 games in the last four years and lost only four with two undefeated seasons in 2009 and 2011. Mills took over as head coach in 1997 and last year was joined by former Pingree star Kenny Adinkra, who will return as a sophomore next year.
“I was recruited by every school as a tight end, and that’s where Amherst intends to use me,” said Bongiorno. When I made my visit I liked it right away. It’s a great college town, and the atmosphere is nice. I’ll probably major in liberal arts and take my time deciding whether to concentrate on engineering or business which both interest me.”
Bongiorno came up through the Marblehead Youth program, and in the early years bounced around between fullback, linebacker, and lineman before settling in at end. He was always a big kid, and a couple of years he didn’t make the weight limit. He also played basketball and made the Prep varsity as a sophomore.
Early in his junior season he broke his hand and after that decided to concentrate on football which is his first love. He went to football camps at Harvard, Dartmouth, and the University of Pennsylvania with teammates Alex Moore and Gerald Kahari. Moore committed to Penn recently.
“I met the Amherst coaches for the first time at the Harvard camp,” said Bongiorno. “I had been thinking about Ivy schools, but honestly the process was taking too long. Amherst was right there the whole time, and it was an easy choice because I really liked the coaches. At the end of the day it was an easy decision for me.
“It feels great not to have to think about it any longer. One of the coaches told me it has been 12 years since any Prep kid went to Amherst. I’m happy I’ll be playing in the NESCAC. It’s a fun, competitive league where I’ll run into former teammates on a regular basis. My parents are really excited they’ll be able to see all my games without having to travel too far.”
Bongiorno said he will continue to do all the stuff he’s been doing regularly to get ready for football at the next level. He is weight training at St. John’s and the YMCA as well as doing speed training with some of his teammates.
“Anthony had his choice of several excellent schools,” said Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “He was one of the key players for us, and will have a great college career. I believe Amherst is an excellent choice for him.”