Roselle native Panasiuk getting used to life in the Big Ten
Roselle, Illinois is about 250 miles from the Michigan State University campus, but for a young football player who has gone from playing high-school football in northern Illinois to lining up against the likes of Notre Dame and Wisconsin, the distance between those two worlds could seem even greater.
For Roselle native Mike Panasiuk, this fall has him suiting up as a Michigan State Spartan for the first time after a stellar high school career at Lake Park West. His first on-field experience at MSU came immediately — a couple of plays into the Spartans' first game of the season, against Furman, on Sept. 2 in East Lansing, Michigan.
“I kind of went into the game thinking it was just like a normal high school game — nothing too big or too serious, even knowing it's a whole new level,” Panasiuk, a defensive lineman, told the DuPage Policy Journal. “But running out there and seeing all the fans around me, I definitely got hyped.”
After that rush, though, he said he went out and did his job, just like in high school.
Panasiuk said that he remained in the flow of things while seeing action in MSU's next two games against Notre Dame and Wisconsin — two of college football's powers alongside MSU.
“It was really cool going against good guys like them, but just treating it like an ordinary game is my mentality,” he said.
Against Wisconsin, Panasiuk recorded the first tackle of his collegiate career.
When talking about the transition from high school to college ball, Panasiuk mentioned conditioning is “a whole new level,” with the Spartans facing teams that run fast-tempo offenses. A lot of energy is needed to compete.
“Back in high school, with my size (6-foot-3-inches, 309 pounds), you can beat the guy in front of you just for being your average Joe,” he said. “Now it's a whole new level. People are stronger than you, faster than you, so you have to keep up with them.”
Panasiuk said his power has improved since high school. He was told that the power he displayed in high school wouldn't work at the Big Ten level, but he has adapted his power to the elevated level by getting lower in his stance and working on hand placement.
Those kinds of details get emphasized at MSU, where defensive linemen will study the angle of an offensive-lineman's foot to pick up signals on which way he will go on the play, Panasiuk said. Pass rush is an area he plans to work more on this season.
The lifestyle also is different for him, as he doesn't have to get up at 6:30 a.m. like last year at this time and is on more of his own schedule. He praised the academic staff at MSU for helping keep students on top of things.
“Michigan State's a great atmosphere,” he said. “All the guys around here and the coaches and the players, it's just like a family.”
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