Center Grove football player Connor Steeb runs onto the field for tonight’s game against Whiteland with 134 career rushing yards.
Anticipate the senior leaving with the same total.
Coach Eric Moore’s knack for effectively moving players to different positions for the betterment of the team was again evident last season. That’s when Steeb, a backup running back through the 2013 season, was switched to defense as a starting strong safety.
At 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, Steeb can bench-press 325 pounds and squat-lift as much as 405 pounds. He attacks his studies (3.7 grade-point average) and strong safety responsibilities with equal enthusiasm.
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“We moved Connor because of his physical presence. At the time we had so many running backs and not as many defensive backs,” said Moore, who witnessed Steeb make seven tackles in last week’s season-opening 42-38 victory at Warren Central.
“Connor is not very big but is strong as an ox and very fast. A multi-sport athlete who, when you teach him something, correlates it to the field very well. He really is a great team player who could play running back, too.”
Lining up at strong safety for a program competing in one of the premier high school football conferences in the United States carries numerous responsibilities.
Steeb embraces the challenges.
“Don’t get beat deep and don’t be afraid to hit. I like it when the (opposing) team runs the football, and I also like it when a receiver comes over the middle on a slant,” said Steeb, who as a junior produced 35 tackles and an interception in the 14-13 victory at Whiteland in Week 2.
“I just feel if I don’t hit they’re going to hit me.”
For all of the hard knocks he’s delivered, Steeb also has absorbed a few.
Asked for his personal lights-out moment, he thought for a moment before settling on Center Grove’s 35-0 Class 5A sectional victory at Jeffersonville his sophomore season.
Playing on the Trojans’ kickoff unit, Steeb, who earlier in the game had plucked a pooch kick right out of the air to give his offense the ball back, proved to be a marked man the next time around.
Steeb didn’t get the license plate number but believes it might have been then-Red Devils senior Dionte Allen, a 6-4, 280-pound defensive lineman.
“The next time we kicked they put a guy on me, and I just got smoked,” Steeb said with a laugh.
More often than not it’s Steeb doing the hitting. And an abundance of the talking, considering he plays on what might be the least-vocal starting defenses in recent memory at Center Grove.
Talented as they are athletically, defensive tackles Cameron Tidd and Jovan Swann aren’t exactly the boisterous type. Another team leader, senior linebacker Jackson Sodrel, is only slightly better in this area.
“I try to get everyone fired up. I’ve always been like that,” Steeb said. “We might be quiet, but we hit.”
His days as a ball carrier behind him, Steeb claims not to miss taking handoffs, blocking and catching the occasional pass out of the backfield.
“Honestly, not really,” he said. “My true love is defense, for sure.”
THE STEEB FILE
Name: Connor Steeb
Family: Parents, Dennis and Beth; sister, Kelly Dowers, 22
Favorite TV show: “Hard Knocks”
Favorite food: Chicken wings
Favorite movie: “Braveheart”
Favorite athlete: Kam Chancellor
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts