What Michigan State commitment Mike Panasiuk accomplished last week at The Opening — the annual showcase for the nation’s top high school football players at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. — was pretty special.
And his newfound fame preceded him as the 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive tackle returned to summer workouts with his high school teammates at Lake Park (Ill.) High.
“At the end of the scrimmage, everyone comes up to me and goes, ‘You’re the guy that hit 43 reps, right?'” Panasiuk said. “And I’m just like, ‘Yeah, that’s me.’ So it’s crazy. Everywhere I go, people know me. My life’s definitely changing.”
What Panasiuk did was bench-press 185 pounds a total of 43 times, breaking the record for The Opening by one.
Panasiuk — who was interviewed this week on Team 92.1’s “Griff & Grinz” show in Lansing, Mich. — credits his track and field coaches for his strength. He also throws shot and discus, and he said his coaches have sampled elite college programs to devise their weight-training regimen. Panasiuk’s max for the bench press is 405 pounds.
Panasiuk said The Opening was a valuable experience for him, and not just because of his show of strength.
“Going in there, I just wanted to learn as much as possible from the coaches, because they’ve been to where I want to go. I’ve only been playing football since eighth-grade year, so I’m still learning, trying to get all this technique down,” he said. “It was a good experience.”
He said it was a chance to rep the Spartans, too.
“It was great,” Panasiuk said. “I definitely can tell when everyone asked me, ‘Oh, did you commit yet?’ I tell them, ‘Yeah, Michigan State,’ they get surprised. But I just want to go out there and rep Michigan State. I definitely did that, so that was good.”