With Charlie Jones graduating and Broc Thompson calling it a career, Purdue needs someone to step up and make big plays. Zion Steptoe, a redshirt freshman receiver, has a chance to be that guy.
Little Elm, Texas (Memorial High School)
Steptoe, a 3* member of Purdue’s 2022 recruiting class, hails from the Longhorn State. He profiles as a slot receiver but played both slot and boundary receiver in high school. He could play on the outside in certain situations at Purdue, much like Charlie Jones.
Speed is the name of the game for Zion. Often times in high school he ran the “be faster than the guy covering you” route, and it worked well. He’ll need more route running variety in college, but he’s got the jets to get even with a defensive back, and once he’s even, he’s gone. He’s a player Coach Harrell could use to stretch the field from the slot this season, and having a player capable of getting deep down the middle is always a good thing.
Looking at Purdue’s other options at slot receiver, and Steptoe is probably third behind Sheffield and Burks, but Purdue will put their best on the field, and as I mentioned earlier, Steptoe isn’t tethered to the slot position. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him lined up outside if Coach Harrell thinks he has a speed match-up he can exploit on the perimeter,
Steptoe can also return kicks, and Purdue desperately needs to improve in that area. He’s got good shake and I’ve already mentioned his speed, making him an ideal candidate. If given the choice, I’d rather have someone off the bench return kicks, but I”m not sure how the new coaching staff feels about that. Either way, he should be in the mix at both kick and punt returner.
Zion is more than likely a year away from competing for a starting spot, but Purdue needs playmakers, and he’s a playmaker. I expect him to contribute in some capacity this season, either from scrimmage or on special teams.