2023 Trib HSSN Preseason Football All-Star Team: West Mifflin’s Rico Steele

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Tuesday, July 25, 2023 | 1:24 PM


Rico Steele earned all-conference honors a year ago as a big-bodied brawler, but the West Mifflin lineman spent the offseason reinventing himself.

He’s still big (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) and willing to brawl, but the rising senior sees himself as a different player nowadays, one who’s a little more nimble. He maybe isn’t leaping tall buildings, but this Man of Steele has been running sprints, climbing hills, scaling stadium steps and jumping rope — true feats of strength for any high school lineman.

“I’ve changed a ton, just in terms of my body and how I’m moving,” Steele said. “I leaned out a lot. I’m weighing around the same, but I’m moving a lot faster.”

Twice weekly, Steele has worked with a speed and conditioning coach to improve his footwork, but he still is lifting six days a week. He also focused on becoming more skilled as both a blocker and pass rusher. He said his strength and endurance are better than they were at this time last summer, improvements he is hoping make a difference on the football field this fall.

He’ll play both ways as a two-way tackle.

“My plan this season is to be the best player every time I step on the field,” he said. “That’s the mindset I’m going into every game with, and I want to be able to show that every Friday night.”

Close to a dozen Division I coaches have offered Steele a scholarship, including a number of Mid-American schools.

Steele is the son of West Mifflin coach Rod Steele and was a ballboy in 2016 when his father’s Steel Valley team won a state title with an undefeated record. Steele said he appreciates having grown up around the game as a coach’s son, and believes that gives him an advantage at times.

“I’ve sat in film rooms and meeting rooms since before I was playing football, when I was 5 or 6 years old,” Steele said. “I feel like it’s made my understanding for the game just a little different than a lot of other guys.”

West Mifflin reached the WPIAL Class 3A quarterfinals a year ago, but Steele said he’s optimistic the Titans can go further this fall. Memories of watching that perfect 2016 season still serve as motivation today.

“There were a lot of great players who were on that run, too,” he said. “Todd Hill. Paris Ford. DeWayne Murray. Just to be able to watch practice every day and see the way those guys worked, I feel that brought a lot to the way I work out and the way I practice.”

His father said he has seen an obvious difference in his son’s conditioning this summer.

“He’s someone to watch this year because of his training and what we’ve done with him since the end of last season,” Rod Steele said. “Leaning him out. Getting all that weight off his hips. He’s done a really fabulous job as far as shaping his body.”

The first four highlights on Steele’s junior film show him overpowering defenders and putting them on their backs. He said he’s working this season to become a more technically skilled blocker, but his willingness to battle is what first caught recruiters’ eyes.

“They call him a brawler,” Rod Steele said. “He’s a big boy that mixes it up. That’s what they like about him.”

Rico Steele

West Mifflin

Senior

OL/DL

6-4, 305

Division I offers: Akron, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, James Madison, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, UMass.

Hudl highlights

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at charlan@triblive.com.

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