Chicagoland DT grabs Irish attention

Mike Panasiuk elevated his recruiting profile two weeks ago by punching a ticket to The Opening Finals later this summer. Since then some new programs have reached out while others have resurfaced. Notre Dame checked on the Chicagoland defensive tackle last week.

Mike Panasiuk didn’t get expectations too high going into The Opening Regional outside Chicago a couple weeks ago. 

Turns out the defensive tackle from Roselle, Ill., waited until the competition got started to set the bar a little higher. That’s when Panasiuk realized he fit among the best prospects on the field with an invitation to The Opening Finals within reach.

“Going into the camp I just came out there to compete and see what else is out there,” Panasiuk said. “I knew a lot of kids were coming from Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. I wanted to get a feel and go up against other competition in the area. I didn’t really have high goals for myself. But once I got there, I did a little research before I went and knew The Opening was pretty cool.

“I was going for lineman MVP and I was like, ‘Hey, you know what? You might as well give it a shot for The Opening.’ I gave it my 100 percent and lucky for me I got the invite.”

Panasiuk scored one of four invites to The Opening Finals handed out at the event and walked away with defensive line MVP honors.

College coaches have since reached out to congratulate the 6-foot-4, 285-pound prospect on the achievement. Others have stopped by Lake Park High School to get into his recruitment for the first time.

Notre Dame fits into that second group with a coach stopping by last week. Michigan State also sent one of its staff.

“Last year I kept contact with Michigan State then it sort of died down,” Panasiuk said. “Now it’s picked back up again. Coach (Brad) Salem, the recruiting coach for this area. I’ve been talking to him. Notre Dame I didn’t really hear from before but all the sudden a couple (people) told me they heard Notre Dame was coming by. I was like, ‘No, haven’t heard from them.’ Then all the sudden I see my coach walking around with a Notre Dame guy.”

Adding a couple power programs from the region could be key as Panasiuk rolls through the spring evaluation period.

“It’s definitely a big deal for me,” he said. “Both great names, both great schools to be a part of. I haven’t really talked to them that much to know if they’re close to offering or not.”

Other programs to visit this spring include Baylor, Ohio State, Penn State and Pittsburgh. Panasiuk holds offers from Baylor, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, Penn State, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin, among others.

Michigan State, Oregon and Ohio State have been in the most contact without having offered, Panasiuk said. Indiana offered this week.

“It’s definitely picked up a little bit,” Panasiuk added. “A lot of college coaches heard about the invite and congratulated me on Twitter and sent me messages. There’s been a lot of different coaches coming in and they heard about the invite. There’s been a couple coaches coming in.”

Later this spring Panasiuk plans to sit down with his coach and family to sort out the contenders and plan summer visits or camps. Minnesota and Michigan State are a couple programs in line to host him.

“We’re gonna talk about the top schools I want to keep in contact with and have interest in and the different camps I want to attend if I want to even attend any camps,” Panasiuk said. “I want to be part of the team as much as possible. This year I’m a leader and last year I was a leader and captain on the team. But this year I want to be a better leader, help my team make the playoffs and make a run for it.” Top Stories