Former Spartans All-Big Ten Defensive Lineman Named to Inaugural All-UFL Team as Offensive Player

A gem from the Michigan State Spartans' 2016 recruiting class, Mike Panasiuk was a stalwart on the defensive line for the Green and White football program. Now, he has made history, but not in his original position...
Dec 27, 2019; Bronx, New York, USA; Michigan State defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk (72) celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2019; Bronx, New York, USA; Michigan State defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk (72) celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans' 2016 recruiting class was, on paper, one of the best of the Mark Dantonio era. Off-field issues weakened the success of the class, but there were numerous gems, such as eventual All-Big Ten linebacker Joe Bachie, All-Big Ten cornerback Justin Layne, and among others, defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk.

Panasiuk currently plays for the St. Louis Battlehawks of the United Football League. Panasiuk made football history on Wednesday when the UFL, a merged USFL and XFL, announced it's inaugural All-UFL teams. Panasiuk was named first-team All-UFL as a center.

Last season, when the Battlehawks were still part of the reinvigorated XFL, Panasiuk made first-team All-XFL as a center, also. The performance earned him an invite to Pittsburgh Steelers minicamp.

As a defensive lineman for the Spartans, Panasiuk started in 41 of the 51 games he played, registering 100 career tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and four sacks.

Panasiuk's junior season was arguably his best, as he anchored the No. 1 rushing defense in the FBS in 2018. Panasiuk was named second-team All-Big Ten by Pro Football Focus, recording 25 tackles on the season with six tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. That season he had a career-high three pass break-ups, an interception, and a blocked field goal.

Panasiuk broke out his sophomore season in 2017. He helped lead the No. 2 rushing defense in the FBS, alongside All-Big Ten breakout stars Bachie and defensive end Kenny Willekes. Panasiuk started all 13 games at defensive tackle. He was third on the entire team with 121 production points. Panasiuk was named a All-Big Ten Honorable Mention.

Panasiuk was a top recruit out of Lake Park High School. He was given four-stars by 247Sports, and received a 92 player grade. Panasiuk was the fifth-ranked player in Illinois among 2016 prospects, and the 22nd-ranked defensive tackle in the class. Nationally, Panasiuk was the No. 225 player in the class.

Panasiuk's former Spartan teammate, quarterback Brian Lewerke, was among several Spartans in the UFL this spring. Lewerke earned a starting role with the Michigan Panthers and even won some games. Willekes and safety Montae Nicholson were other notable Spartans with spots on UFL rosters on the Panthers and the DC Defenders, respectively.

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Michael France

MICHAEL FRANCE