Egg Harbor Township junior Mike Lahoud knew very early that he wanted to play baseball for Monmouth University.

"They have been following me for a while, since my sophomore year and in the summer." Lahoud said. "I wanted to go to a place I could start all four years. After a lot of research and a lot colleges, I decided Monmouth gave me that opportunity."

Last month, Lahoud verbally committed to play for the NCAA Division I Hawks starting with the 2016 season.

The junior catcher hit .318 with two home runs, four doubles, 18 RBIs and 21 hits in his sophomore season.

Lahoud's high school coach said he will improve on those numbers this year.

"The sky is the limit for him," Bryan Carmichael said about Lahoud's potential. "He is probably our No. 3 hitter. Mike is a great catcher, when we look at things defensively ... it is good to have someone like Mike behind the plate."

Perfect Game, a baseball scouting website, ranks Lahoud as the top catching prospect in the state for the Class of 2015.

Monmouth started recruiting Lahoud during his sophomore season.

"They've been following me around. They have come to a lot of my games and tournaments," Lahoud said.

He also said that he has worked with some of the Hawks' coaching staff, including Rick Oliveri, the team's catchers coach.

"I worked with him at different times of the year. He can take my talents to the next level," Lahoud said. "The coaching staff at Monmouth can get me to where I want to be."

Lahoud also plays travel ball in the summer with an organization known as Baseball U., which he credits for giving him greater exposure to college scouts.

"Coach (John) Wells is a great guy. He put me into the position to be seen by a lot of different schools and took my game to the next level and opened the door for me to be seen by all these schools that I may not have been seen normally," Lahoud said.

Last season, Monmouth finished 30-24-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. They are 1-5 in 2014.

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