Several Spartans Sign as Undrafted Free Agents
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Several Michigan State Spartans signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents following the 2020 NFL Draft, including linebacker Joe Bachie (New Orleans Saints), offensive lineman Tyler Higby (Minnesota Vikings), quarterback Brian Lewerke (New England Patriots), defensive tackle Mike Panasiuk (Las Vegas Raiders), wide receiver Darrell Stewart (Green Bay Packers), wide receiver Cody White (Kansas City Chiefs) and defensive tackle Raequan Williams (Philadelphia Eagles).
Two Spartans were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft – cornerback Josiah Scott (fourth round, Jacksonville) and defensive end Kenny Willekes (seventh round, Minnesota) – extending Michigan State’s remarkable draft streak to 80 consecutive years, which is the third-longest in the country.
JOE BACHIE – Linebacker – 6-2 – 231 – Brook Park, Ohio – Berea High School
CAREER NOTES: Four-year letterwinner and three-year starting middle linebacker played in 40 career games, including 34 starts . . . finished his career ranked 20th in MSU history with 27.5 tackles for loss (91 yards) and 22nd with 285 tackles . . . also tied for sixth in the Spartan record book with five forced fumbles . . . in addition, recorded eight sacks, five interceptions, 11 pass break-ups and two forced fumbles in his career . . . voted team captain for second straight season in 2019, joining senior teammate Brian Lewerke as just the fifth and sixth players under Coach Mark Dantonio to be named captain twice (Kirk Cousins, 2009-10-11; Greg Jones, 2009-10; Max Bullough, 2012-13; Shilique Calhoun, 2014-15) . . . three-time member of the team’s Eagles leadership council . . . had 12 career games with double-digit tackles . . . four-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honoree . . . graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science in December 2019.
2019 SEASON (SENIOR): Earned third-team All-Big Ten (media) and honorable mention All-Big Ten (coaches, Pro Football Focus) accolades . . . ranked fifth on the team with 71 tackles in eight games, all starts at middle linebacker . . . also had 8.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, four pass break-ups and one interception . . . earned first-team midseason All-America honors by Rivals.com . . . named second-team midseason All-American by The Associated Press, The Athletic and Athlon Sports . . . named semifinalist for Butkus Award and quarterfinalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy . . . registered a season-high three tackles for loss (19 yards) and a career-high two sacks, including an 18-yard sack on the third play from scrimmage, as part of 11 tackles at Ohio State, tallying 26 production points that led the defense . . . named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week and Lott IMPACT Trophy National Co-Player of the Week for performance at Northwestern, recording career-high 14 tackles (13 solo, one assist) to lead the Spartan defense, adding one interception, one sack and two TFLs, two pass break-ups and one QB hurry . . . had a 9-yard sack in the first quarter to set the tone for the Spartans, and finished with two tackles for loss (10 yards) overall, adding two pass break-ups and one QB hurry, ending game with 50 production points, the most ever by a player in the Dantonio era . . . posted 12 stops (4 solo, 13 assists) with 0.5 TFL and 0.5 sack in starting against Arizona State, posting 17 production points, ranking second among linebackers and tied for second overall for defense.
TYLER HIGBY – Offensive Lineman – 6-5 – 300 – Houston, Texas – The Kincaid School
CAREER NOTES: Four-year letterwinner played in 43 career games, with 30 career starts, including 21 at left guard (six in 2016, seven in 2017, eight in 2018),
seven at left tackle (three in 2018, four in 2019) and two at center (two in 2018) . . . graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communication in December 2019.
2019 SEASON (SENIOR): Played 385 snaps in seven games, with four starts, all at left tackle . . . missed the last six games due to an injury . . . was starting left tackle at Wisconsin and played all 51 snaps . . . drew starting assignment at left tackle for game at Ohio State and played all 68 snaps . . . started Indiana game at left tackle and played 72 snaps . . . drew first start of season at Northwestern, starting at left tackle . . . saw action against Arizona State and moved out to play left tackle following an injury to Kevin Jarvis . . . saw action in Western Michigan game for 27 snaps . . . played 45 snaps, primarily at right guard, in season opener vs. Tulsa . . . was one of six Spartans who shaved his head in April 2019 to help donate money for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which benefits childhood cancer research.
BRIAN LEWERKE – Quarterback – 6-3 – 216 – Phoenix, Ariz. – Pinnacle High School
CAREER NOTES: Three-year starting quarterback finished his Spartan ranked first in school history in total offense with 9,548 yards (8,293 passing, 1,255 rushing) . . . played in 41 career games, including 38 starts (22-16 record) . . . finished his career ranked third among Spartan QBs in career starts (38) and wins (22) . . . completed 57.7 percent of his passes (721-of-1249) for 8,293 yards, 47 touchdowns and 32 interceptions in his career . . . in addition to setting the all-time Spartan total offense record, also finished his career ranked among MSU’s career leaders in passing attempts (first with 1,249), pass completions (second with 721), passing yards (fourth with 8,293), passing touchdowns (fourth with 47) and passing yards per game (fifth with 202.3 ypg) . . . ranked third among Spartan QBs with 1,255 rushing yards in his career and had 10 rushing TDs . . . only Spartan player to win two bowl MVPs (2017 Holiday, 2019 Pinstripe) . . . one of three Spartan QBs to win two bowl games as the starter (2017 Holiday, 2019 Pinstripe) . . . engineered six fourth-quarter comebacks in his career (2017: Indiana and Penn State; 2018: Utah State and Penn State; 2019: Indiana and Maryland) . . . recorded two of the three highest seasons of total offense in MSU history (record 3,442 yards in 2019; 3,352 yards in 2017 is third) . . . one of only two quarterbacks and six players overall in the Mark Dantonio era to be voted a team captain twice (2018, 2019) . . . only Spartan player in history to record more than 8,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards . . . only Spartan quarterback to pass for 2,500 yards (2,793 yards) and rush for 500 yards (559 yards) in a single season (2017) . . . also had four receptions for 32 yards and one touchdown . . . finished his career with nine 300-yard passing games, third most in MSU history, and 21 200-yard passing games, fourth most among Spartan QBs . . . owns school single-game records for total offense (475 vs. Northwestern in 2017), passing yards (445 vs. Northwestern in 2017) and completions (39 vs. Northwestern in 2017) . . . three-time member of the team’s Eagles leadership council . . . two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree . . . graduated with an economics degree in December 2018 and a second degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science in December 2019 . . . participated in the NFLPA Collegiate All-Start Game.
2019 SEASON (SENIOR): Set a school single-season record for total offense with 3,442 yards (3,079 passing; 363 rushing) . . . completed 59.6 percent of his passes (260-of-436) for 3,079 yards, 17 TDs and 13 interceptions . . . had four 300-yard passing games and nine 200-yard passing games . . . also rushed 111 times for 363 yards (27.9 ypg) . . . ranked among the Big Ten leaders in pass attempts (first with 436), pass completions (first with 260), passing (second with 236.8 ypg) and total offense (second with 264.8 ypg) . . . ranked among the FBS leaders in completions per game (30th with 20.0), total passing yards (32nd with 3,079), total offense (33rd with 264.8 ypg) and passing (40th at 236.8 ypg) . . . received the MSU Downtown Coaches Club Award for most outstanding player on offense . . . named one of 20 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award . . . was MSU’s candidate for the Wuerffel Trophy, known as “College Football’s Premier Award for Community Service,” which is presented annually to the Football Bowl Subdivision player who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement . . . voted one of four team captains . . . threw for a career-high 3,079 yards, the fifth-highest single-season total in MSU history . . . also ranked among MSU’s single-season leaders in pass attempts (third with 436), pass completions (third with 260) and passing yards per game (sixth with 236.8 ypg) . . . one of three Spartan QBs to throw for at least 2,000 yards in three straight seasons (2,793 in 2017; 2,040 in 2018; 2,759 in 2019) . . . had 42 completions of 20-plus yards, including four TDs . . . named the David C. Koch MVP of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl after completing 26-of-37 passes for 320 yards, one TD and one interception in the 27-21 win over Wake Forest at Yankee Stadium . . . completed a career-long 64-yard pass to Trenton Gillison in the second quarter, setting up MSU’s second TD of the game . . . the 320 passing yards were the fourth-highest by a Spartan in a bowl game . . . collected 366 yards of total offense (320 passing, 46 rushing) to become the school’s all-time leader in total offense, surpassing Connor Cook . . . the 366 yards of total offense were the second most in a Spartan bowl game . . . scored his third rushing TD of the season on an 8-yard run in the second quarter . . . threw a 10-yard TD pass to Cody White in the third quarter that gave MSU the lead for good at 27-21 . . . completed 30-of-41 passes for 342 yards in Maryland game on Senior Day, marking eighth career 300-yard passing game . . . the 342 passing yards marked a season high and the third-best outing of his career, along with the 20th most in school history . . . the 342 yards were also the most ever by a Spartan against Maryland (previous: 240 by Connor Cook in 2014) . . . also had a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter . . . was 21-of-30 passing for 239 yards and three touchdowns with one interception at Rutgers . . . was 17-of-30 for 166 yards with one TD at Michigan, connecting with Max Rosenthal, for seventh different Spartan with a TD reception this season . . . finished Illinois game with 347 yards of total offense (251 passing, 96 rushing) . . . ended with a career-high 96 rushing yards on 11 carries, including a 42-yard TD in the second quarter . . . the 42-yard TD run was the second-longest TD run of his career (61 yards vs. Western Michigan in 2017) and third-longest run overall of his career (61 vs. WMU, 52 vs. Notre Dame in 2017) . . . was 19-of-36 passing for 251 yards against the Illini . . . was 16-of-34 for 165 yards and added eight rushes for 22 yards in Penn State game . . . was 7-for-16 for 53 yards with one interception at Wisconsin . . . completed 20-of-38 passes for 218 yards, one touchdown and one interception at Ohio State . . . finished Indiana game with 378 total yards of offense (300 passing, 78 rushing), the fourth-highest total of career (475 vs. Northwestern in 2017; 425 vs. Penn State in 2017) and ninth highest in MSU history, completing 18-of-36 passes for 300 yards . . . also led team with 78 rushing yards against the Hoosiers, including a 30-yard scamper down to the IU 1-yard line, setting up MSU’s game-winning field goal with five seconds remaining . . . completed 18-of-31 passes for 228 yards at Northwestern, tying a season-high with three TD passes, including two to Matt Seybert . . . was 24-of-38 for 291 yards in Arizona State game, including a 48-yard pass play to Matt Seybert, while rushing 10 times for 25 yards . . . completed 23-of-32 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns against Western Michigan . . . added 17-yard catch from receiver Darrell Stewart, diving toward end zone before getting knocked out of bounds . . . completed 21-of-37 passes against Tulsa for 192 yards and one touchdown; also rushed seven times for 34 yards, including MSU’s game-high 16-yard scamper on Spartans’ second offensive play, setting up TD on opening possession, earning MSU Offensive Player of the Week team award.
MIKE PANASIUK – Defensive Tackle – 6-4 – 300 – Roselle, Ill. – Lake Park West High School
CAREER NOTES: Four-year letterwinner finished his career with 100 tackles, including 18 for losses (61 yards) with four sacks (26 yards), in 51 games, including 41 starts at defensive tackle . . . also had four pass break-ups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery . . . his play along the defensive interior was one of the key reasons why Michigan State ranked No. 1 in the FBS in rushing defense in 2018 and No. 2 in 2017 . . . member of the team’s Eagles leadership council in 2019 . . . graduated with a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in social science – human capital and society in December 2019
2019 SEASON (SENIOR): Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten (coaches & media) . . . also earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from Pro Football Focus . . . won the MSU Up Front Award (most outstanding lineman on defense) . . . had a career-high 36 total tackles (13 solo, 23 assists) with a career-high 9.0 TFLs (30 yards) and 2.0 sacks (11 yards), with one fumble recovery and one pass break-up in 13 games with 12 starts . . . finished his collegiate career in style in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl win over Wake Forest at Yankee Stadium, scoring his first career touchdown on an interception return off a deflected pass in the first quarter; after his brother, Jacub, tipped the ball at the line of scrimmage, the ball bounced off linebacker Noah Harvey, and then Panasiuk picked off the pass and returned it 14 yards for the score while diving into the end zone . . . he also had three tackles against the Demon Deacons . . . logged five stops with 1.5 TFLs and first career fumble recovery in the Maryland game on Senior Day . . . posted four stops at Michigan . . . had streak of 37 straight starts stopped by not starting the Illinois game due to illness; ended with one tackle and first pass break-up of season . . . made 37th consecutive start in starting at defensive tackle in Penn State game, logging five tackles with one sack, ending with 22 production points, leading defensive unit . . . matched career high with seven stops at Ohio State, marking second time has posted top mark of career against Ohio State; added career-high 3.5 tackles for loss (9 yards) with first sack (4 yards) of season, adding first forced fumble of career, ending with 16 production points, tops for defensive tackles and tying for third overall on defense . . . started Indiana game at defensive tackle, posting one stop, earning 15 production points, ranking second on defensive line . . . started game at Northwestern, near his hometown with lots of family and friends in stands, posting one tackle, but it was a huge stop, going for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the MSU 1-yard line, stoning the Northwestern QB keeping him out of end zone; finished with 27 production points, ranking second on defensive lineman and third on defensive overall . . . posted three tackles, registering 12 production points, in Arizona State game . . . started Western Michigan game, notching two stops . . . tallied two tackles in Tulsa game, both TFLs, and both on Tulsa first-down plays, tying career-high for TFLs.
DARRELL STEWART – Wide Receiver – 6-2 – 216 – Houston, Texas – Nimitz High School
CAREER NOTES: Four-year letterwinner and three-year starter at wide receiver finished his career with 150 receptions for 1,640 yards and seven touchdowns in 43 games, including 20 starts . . . finished his career ranked among MSU’s all-time leaders in receptions (third with 150), receptions per game (ninth with 3.49) and receiving yards (tied for 23rd with 1,640 yards) . . . recorded 2,363 all-purpose yards (1,640 receiving; 551 kick return; 152 rushing; 20 punt return) . . . had a reception in the last 33 games he played in . . . consistent wideout had three straight years with at least 48 receptions (50 in 2017; 48 in 2018; 49 in 2019) . . . member of the team’s Eagles leadership council as a senior . . . participated in the NFLPA Collegiate All-Start Game.
2019 SEASON (SENIOR): Despite missing four games with an injury in November, still recorded a career-high 697 receiving yards and four touchdown catches . . . also had 49 receptions, second most of his career, just one shy of tying his career-high 50 in 2017 . . . played in nine games, including seven starts . . . tied for 12th in the Big Ten in receptions (49) and 14th in receiving yards (697) . . . received MSU’s Biggie Munn Award for most inspirational player on offense . . . finished with 859 all-purpose yards (697 receiving; 175 kick return), third most on the team . . . led MSU with 19 plays of 20-plus yards (14 receptions, five kick returns) . . . was added to the Biletnikoff Award Watch List on Sept. 25 after a strong start to the season . . . snared at least five catches in seven of nine games . . . topped team in receptions in seven of the first eight games . . . missed the last four games of the regular season due to an injury before returning to action for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl; recorded two catches for 3 yards in his final Spartan game, a win over Wake Forest at Yankee Stadium . . . streak of leading team in receptions and streak of three or more catches came to an end in the Penn State game with one reception for 11 yards and one kick return for 24 yards, before leaving game with an injury . . . led team for seventh straight game with five catches for 59 yards at Wisconsin, adding one kick return for 18 yards . . . snared six catches for 68 yards with a 20-yard TD catch at Ohio State . . . earned honorable mention Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week recognition for the second time of 2019 after posting third 100-yard receiving game of the season with five catches for 117 yards against Indiana with career-high two TDs . . . snared career-long 44-yard reception late in the fourth quarter that set up MSU’s game-winning field goal later in the drive . . . recorded two touchdown receptions for the first time in career (5 yards and 26 yards, both in second quarter) . . . added two kick returns for 42 yards to finish Indiana game with 159 all-purpose yards . . . had five receptions for 77 yards with a long of 27 yards at Northwestern, adding one kick return for season-long 31 yards . . . put together back-to-back 100-yard receiving games (vs. Western Michigan and Arizona State) for the first time at MSU since Aaron Burbridge had four straight 100-yard games in 2015 . . . snared nine receptions for 121 yards, both game-highs, in Arizona State game, with six going for first downs, adding a 19-yard kick return for 140 all-purpose yards . . . earned honorable mention Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Player of the Week accolades for his career-night performance against Western Michigan, amassing a career-high 185 yards receiving on 10 catches . . . the 185 receiving yards tied for the 12th-most by a Spartan in a single game (Plaxico Burress, 13 catches for 185 yards vs. Florida on Jan. 1, 2000) . . . the 10 catches were the second most in career (11 at Northwestern in 2017) . . . had eight catches for 152 yards and one TD in the first half alone . . . had four catches of 20-plus yards (42 yards for TD; 33 yards, 22 yards, 21 yards) . . . also threw a 17-yard pass to Brian Lewerke . . . had two kick returns for 41 yards to compile a career-high 226 all-purpose yards, topping previous career-high of 159 also against Western Michigan, in 2017 . . . led MSU and shared game-high honors with six catches for game-best 56 yards in season opener vs. Tulsa, including a 30-yard catch that was MSU’s longest offensive play in the contest.
CODY WHITE – Wide Receiver – 6-3 – 215 – Novi, Mich. – Walled Lake Western
CAREER NOTES: Three-year letterwinner played in 35 career games, including 26 starts . . . finished his career ranked seventh in MSU history with 143 receptions, 12th with 1,967 receiving yards and tied for 16th with 12 TD catches . . . his 4.1 receptions per game rank seventh in MSU history . . . compiled 2,115 all-purpose yards (1,967 receiving; 85 punt return; 63 rushing) . . . had five career 100-yard receiving outings . . . elected to forgo his senior season to enter the 2020 NFL Draft.
2019 SEASON (JUNIOR): Earned honorable mention All-Big Ten by both coaches and media . . . led the Spartans and ranked fourth in the Big Ten with 66 catches (5.1 pg) . . . the 66 catches tied for the seventh most in an MSU single-season . . . also ranked first on the team and sixth in the Big Ten in receiving (922 yards; 70.9 ypg) . . . the 922 receiving yards ranked 13th most in a Spartan single-season . . . had a career-high six touchdown catches . . . played in all 13 games, including 12 starts . . . ranked second on the team with a career-high 984 all-purpose yards (922 receiving; 40 punt return; 22 rushing) . . . earned team awards for most improved player on offense (Tommy Love Award) and outstanding Detroit-area player (Danziger Award) . . . 47 of his 66 (.712) receptions went for either a first down or touchdown, including all seven receptions in Illinois game, all five catches in Western Michigan game, all four receptions at Northwestern, three of four catches vs. Indiana, all three vs. Penn State, four of six at Michigan, eight of 11 at Rutgers, all four vs. Maryland and six of eight vs. Wake Forest . . . had 36 catches for 523 yards (15.2 ypc/106.5 ypg) with four TDs in his last five games, with at least four catches in each of those five contests . . . also had seven punt returns for 40 yards (5.7 ypr) and four rushes for 28 yards . . . had a game-high eight receptions for 97 yards in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl win over Wake Forest, including a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter which proved to be the game-winning score; six of his eight catches went for first downs . . . had four catches for a team-best 84 yards with a long of 27 yards in Maryland game, with all four going for first downs . . . had a career-high 11 receptions for 136 yards at Rutgers and tied an MSU single-game record with three TD catches, which had been accomplished on nine previous occasions . . . Aaron Burbridge was the last Spartan to have three TD receptions in one game (vs. Air Force in 2015) . . . had six catches for 78 yards with a long of 29 yards at Michigan, with four of six going for first downs . . . had seven receptions for 128 yards in Illinois game, marking fourth career 100-yard receiving game and first of the season, and all seven catches went for first downs . . . had three catches for 66 yards in Penn State game, with a long of 49 yards . . . had four catches for 67 yards against Indiana, including a 30-yard catch, with three of the four going for a first down on MSU TD drives . . . had four catches for 70 yards, with all four going for either a first down or a touchdown, including an 11-yard TD catch at Northwestern, as well as a 29-yard catch, adding one rush for 13 yards and two punt returns . . . had five catches for 63 yards with one TD after starting Western Michigan contest, including four going for a first down and the one TD, adding one punt return for 10 yards.
RAEQUAN WILLIAMS – Defensive Tackle – 6-4 – 303 – Chicago, Ill. – DePaul College Prep
CAREER NOTES: Four-year letterwinner started 42 consecutive games at nose tackle to close out his career, the longest starting streak by a position player in the Mark Dantonio era . . . two-time Associated Press All-Big Ten First Team selection (2018, 2019) . . . three-time member of the team’s Eagles leadership council and was voted a captain as a senior in 2019 . . . finished his career with 160 tackles, including 29 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks, in 50 career games, including 42 starts . . . the 29 tackles for loss rank tied for 16th most in MSU history . . . also had eight pass break-ups and three forced fumbles . . . only second player in MSU history to win the team’s Iron Man Award three consecutive seasons . . . graduated with a bachelor’s degree in advertising management in December 2019 . . . participated in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game.
2019 SEASON (SENIOR): Named to the AP All-Big Ten First Team for the second year in a row . . . selected second-team All-Big Ten by the media and third team by the coaches . . . voted one of four team captains . . . recorded a career-high five sacks (31 yards), which tied for second on the team and ranked tied for 18th in the Big Ten . . . also had 48 tackles overall, including 7.5 for losses (39 yards) . . . started all 13 games . . . received the team’s Iron Man Award for the third straight year . . . named MSU’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree and also received the Clarence Underwood Sportsmanship Award . . . closed out his college career with seven tackles, including a half tackle for loss, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl victory over Wake Forest . . . tallied two tackles with 0.5 sack and TFL in Maryland game, adding one QB hurry . . . posted five stops at Rutgers . . . recorded three tackles with one sack and one TFL at Michigan . . . tallied two tackles, including 0.5 TFL, in Illinois game . . . registered four tackles in Penn State game . . . tallied three tackles at Wisconsin . . . notched career-high eight tackles at Ohio State, good for 12 production points, ranking third among defensive linemen . . . logged five stops with 1.5 TFL and 1.0 sack in Indiana game, adding one QB hurry, registering 20 production points . . . playing near his hometown of Chicago in front of a large number of family and friends, logged two tackles, both TFLs. with one sack at Northwestern . . . tallied 30 production points, leading the defensive linemen and ranking second overall against the Wildcats. . . posted three tackles, including 1.0 sack and TFL in Arizona State game . . . tallied one stop and one QB hurry in Western Michigan contest . . . logged three tackles, including 0.5 sack, and one forced fumble, teaming with Kenny Willekes for a sack and knocking ball loose from Tulsa QB and Willekes pounced on fumble in end zone, ending with 16 production points . . . named to the watch list for the Outland Trophy.