ADDISON, Ill. – Few players have seen their recruiting stock rise more in the last few months than has Mike Panasiuk. That trend figured to continue upward following Sunday’s performance in The Opening Chicago Regional here at Addison Trail High.
The Roselle (IL) Lake Park standout first was named the event’s defensive lineman MVP. A few minutes later he became just one of four players here to earn an invitation to The Opening Finals on July 5 in Beaverton, OR. More than 300 players participated in Sunday’s testing.
Since the end of January, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Panasiuk has added scholarship offers from Iowa State, Iowa, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Minnesota. Illinois and Syracuse had been his lone Power-5 opportunities before the first of the year.
"I’m just humbled. (2015 recruit) Antonio Shenault is my former teammate and he’s going to Minnesota. Through the process, he just kept telling me to stay humble; everything is going to come in. You’ve got to take it all in. That’s basically what I’m doing," Panasiuk said.
Iowa was the second school to offer Panasiuk this year. He visited in February.
"I haven’t made my complete list yet but they’re definitely one of the top schools on my list and they’re going to be there for a long time," Panasiuk said. "Going there and talking to all the coaches and talking to Brian Ferentz, he’s my recruiting coordinator, and hearing what’s happening over there, it’s something to be a part of."
One of the main things about Iowa that sticks out to Panasiuk is the program’s ability to develop players at his position.
"The history behind Iowa is just amazing. Carl Davis got drafted (Friday) and there was another defensive tackle (Louis Trinca-Pasat) that got a free agency signing. (The coaches) know what to do," he said.
Panasiuk looks like Trinca-Pasat, Mitch King, Mike Daniels, Matt Kroul and other recent Hawkeye defensive tackles. Those guys aren’t the cookie cutter, 300-pound mammoths in the middle but play with excellent quickness and leverage.
"Technique is everything to me. I come out to all these camps and go on all these college vists and I see guys that are bigger than me. But that doesn’t phase me. I just go out and put in more work than they do," Panasiuk said.
Panasiuk racked up 56 tackles, including 13 for a loss, and four sacks last season. He earned DuPage Valley Conference co-Defensive Lineman of the Year honors.
Comfort stands out as the most important thing in picking a school for Panasiuk, who is considering college majors in Business and Engineering.
"When I look at these different colleges, I just look at somewhere where I can be comfortable for the next 4-5 years and just getting my college degree because that’s what’s important to me," he said.
"I just want the feeling like I’m at home; going around to the other athletes and feeling the brotherhood that they get me."
Ohio State and Oregon are picking up their interest in Panasiuk, he said.
"I don’t really have a (timetable) or anything (to commit). I’m definitely planning on visiting more schools (this summer); go to a couple that I already visited and that stand out for me and get a better feel for them," he said.
Iowa appears solidly in the mix for one of those stops.