Long snapper Wesley Horky accompanied his punter to a private lesson two years ago with 17-year NFL veteran Craig Hentrich.
Hentrich’s eyes nearly popped out of his head after the first snap that day.
“He was already as good as any snapper who ever snapped to me,” said Hentrich, who played four years at Notre Dame before an NFL career that included a Super Bowl victory with the Green Bay Packers.
“It was amazing for a high school sophomore who never had a formal lesson of any kind.”
Horky, from Ravenwood High School in Brentwood, Tenn., was planning to walk on at Tennessee before Oklahoma called with a scholarship offer last month.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound long snapper signed after visiting Norman, completing a journey that began when Horky became his pee-wee team’s snapper by default many years ago.
Horky was too big as a fifth grader to play any skill positions, so he was the team’s center and then, naturally, took over the long snapping duties.
“The other coach and myself just kinda showed him how to get the ball back, and it turned out he was good at it,” said Brad Horky, Wesley’s dad.
When he got to high school, Horky attended several Kohl’s specialist camps around the region and began to gain notoriety as one of the recruiting class of 2014’s best long snappers.
The Ravenwood High team wasn’t very good Horky’s sophomore and junior seasons — it finished 2-8 and 3-7, respectively, those years — but that actually worked to Horky’s advantage.
“He’d get anywhere from seven to nine snaps a game, just on punts because we weren’t scoring touchdowns,” Brad Horky said. “We’d go to these camps, and some guys would come from undefeated programs but only have five to 10 snaps all year.
“Wes was doing that in a game.”
Horky started at tight end his junior year, then started both there and at defensive end his senior season, but knew his future was as a long snapper.
Hentrich, who played his final 12 NFL seasons with the Tennessee Titans, retired in 2009 and started Legacy Kicking, a business based out of Nashville, Tenn., that tutors kickers and punters all over the country.
After that first meeting, Hentrich regularly called and asked Horky to provide snaps during his private lessons in the Nashville area.
“Quite honestly, I’ve really never seen him throw a bad snap, and I’ve seen hundreds of his snaps,” Hentrich said. “His balls are super easy to catch. As a punter, catching good spirals is really what we want to do, and that’s what he’s so good at. Every one of his balls is a perfect spiral.”
Horky picked up an offer from Murray State, a Football Championship Subdivision program in Kentucky, but wanted the chance to play big-time college football and committed to become a preferred walk-on at Tennessee.
But a few weeks after National Signing Day, OU special teams coordinator Jay Boulware called to say he had a scholarship for Horky.
He visited in late February and signed before he left.
“I just fell in love with OU,” Horky said. “The players, the coaching staff, the whole nine yards. It’s awesome.”
He fills an important need for the Sooners, too, with long snapper Austin Woods graduated. Oklahoma has rarely awarded scholarships to long snappers right out of high school, but coach Bob Stoops said Horky’s special skills made him an exception.
“It’s something we really need with Austin being gone, and the positive with Wesley is he can really cover too,” Stoops said. “Woody was awesome snapping the ball but getting down and covering people wasn’t a big part of his game.
“We’re fired up about him.”