The Naples High football program is never short on talent. The Golden Eagles didn’t win two state championships and six regional titles the past 15 years without great players.
With so much ability on the sideline, sophomores usually don’t see the field much in Naples coach Bill Kramer’s system.
Especially at the skill positions.
But Wooby Theork wasn’t a typical underclassmen for the Eagles last season. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound receiver had a breakout season, catching 32 passes for 465 yards and eight touchdowns.
As one of Naples’ only returning offensive starters, Theork will be thrust into the spotlight this fall.
His blend of natural ability and work ethic puts him at No. 11 on The News-Press/Naples Daily News Big 15 list of top recruits in Southwest Florida.
Theork picked up his first scholarship from Rutgers after the season and has a handful of offers from Football Championship Subdivision teams.
“I’m always surprised when a 10th-grader can play varsity and be successful,” said Kramer, whose Eagles reached the state semifinals last season. “He’s an excellent athlete. He can jump through the roof. He’s very, very fast. He’s just a smooth, effortless guy.”
Theork was eighth in Collier County in receiving yards last season and fourth in receiving touchdowns. He did it despite sharing balls with one of the best recruits in the country on a team that’s traditionally run heavy — Naples receiver Tyler Byrd was ranked the No. 35 senior by ESPN and the Eagles rushed for 231 yards per game.
Although Byrd, who signed with Tennessee, was on the other side of the field, Theork led Naples with eight touchdown catches. In just his third varsity game, he caught three passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Gulf Coast.
What’s more impressive, Theork has only been playing football for three years — surprisingly, he doesn’t have a recruiting profile on Rivals, Scout nor 247 Sports.
Before football, he considered himself a basketball star.
“Basketball was my life,” Theork said. “I had two younger brothers bug me about playing football, so I thought I’d try something new.”
Theork said his basketball skills helped him take to the sport quickly. As a guard on the hardwood, he was used to shaking free of defenders to drive to the hoop. Sliding past defensive backs was no different.
As an eighth-grader, his first time in pads, Theork made the area’s Football University all-star team. The squad advanced to the quarterfinals of the FBU National Championships.
While most of Theork’s other scholarship offers are from smaller programs, Kramer believes Theork is a sure-fire Power Conference talent.
Theork still plays basketball, and he’s still pretty good. Last season he averaged 7.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game for Naples.
However, he’s found a new love. After dreaming of an NBA career as a kid, Theork’s new sport has become his favorite.
“I like football way better,” Theork said. “I love competing against other kids. In basketball you don’t get to know your teammates that much. You build more of a bond in football.”
The Eagles’ young star is so new to football that he doesn’t have measurements college recruiters look for in high school athletes. Theork said he’s never been tested in the vertical jump and doesn’t really know is 40-yard dash time.
Theork doesn’t say much, but Kramer says he has a quiet confidence about him.
It will serve him well this season, when the Eagles expect the wide receiver to be a big factor on a team hoping to repeat as regional champs.
Could Theork be the next big Naples recruit?
“We’re going to get the ball in his hands,” Kramer said. “That shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. Whether that’s kick returns, punt returns — we’re going to do whatever we can do to get the ball to him.”
The Big 15
The News-Press and Naples Daily News will be counting down the top football recruits in Southwest Florida every Tuesday and Friday until the start of the high school football season. The Big 15 features players going into their junior and senior years from Lee and Collier counties, with respect paid to those with hard scholarship offers and those without who possess great potential.
The Next 15
26. Chris Hanlon, Naples, TE: The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior tight end has an offer from Davidson. He caught eight passes for 95 yards and a touchdown last season.