Change of heart: MSU defensive end Jacub Panasiuk says he'll play this season after all
Michigan State is preparing for its first standard football practice on Monday and the Spartans will have more of a veteran presence than they first expected.
Senior defensive end Jacub Panasiuk, who decided on Aug. 5 to opt out of the season, has chosen to opt in and will play this fall, a team spokesman confirmed on Friday. It came soon after Panasiuk posted an action photo of himself with the message “October 24 … #GoGreen.”
Of course, Oct. 24 is the likely start date for the season after the Big Ten decided on Wednesday to play an eight-game schedule after originally choosing on Aug. 11 to postpone the fall season.
Panasiuk joins redshirt freshman linebacker Marcel Lewis, who announced on Wednesday that he was opting back in after originally deciding not to play in 2020.
The younger brother of former Michigan State defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk, Jacub Panasiuk has 80 tackles, including 18½ for loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles in 38 career games. Last season, Panasiuk had 34 tackles, including 11 tackles for a loss and five sacks. With the likes of Kenny Willekes, Raquean Williams and Mike Panasiuk off to the NFL, the Spartans are counting heavily on Jacub Panasiuk this season to provide his share of leadership to a defense with plenty of holes to fill.
“He’s been a leader in the room,” defensive line coach Ron Burton said of Panasiuk in April. “He’s been helping the young guys understand the game and the fundamentals; that’s the key to us up front. As a senior defensive end, you’re kind of taking the bull by the horns as an assistant coach and understanding the nuances of what’s going on. That really allows our guys to be prepared along with us.”
Michigan State did not provide any update on the status of senior right tackle Jordan Reid or freshman offensive lineman Justin Steven, each of whom had also opted out of the season.
During a meeting with reporters on Thursday, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker indicated the roster should be settled by the time the Spartans hit the practice field on Monday following a weekend of conditioning and film work.
“If there's any opt-outs, that should be settled here probably within the next few days or so and we'll know more,” Tucker said. “But my stance has not changed. We're going to support our players, regardless whether they opt in or they've opted out. Everyone has a different circumstance, and we respect that and we're supporting our players 100 percent, whatever they decide to do.”