ATHENS — Isaac Nauta is at peace with himself counting down the hours to the NFL draft, when he and several of his other former Georgia football teammates will learn their professional destinations.
But it wasn’t so long ago that Nauta recalls sorting out the details of the G-Day Game the Monday following the annual Saturday scrimmage exhibition in Sanford Stadium.
It was a review known as “The good, the bad, and the ugly.”
“Oh yeah, I remember,” said Nauta, who like several other former UGA players was at the stadium. “Typically what we’d do is watching special teams first, we’d clean all of that up, the mistakes, the MAs (missed assignments) and make sure everyone knows what they’re doing.
“Our biggest emphasis on special teams was effort, so we’d make sure guys were flying down, always finishing and playing with effort.”
After the special teams talk, the team would split up and as Nauta said, “highlight some of the good stuff, then fix some of the bad stuff and ugly stuff.”
Ugly stuff like ball security, MAs, dropped or missed passes.
“For us following a game or spring game, it was ‘this is what we did good, this is what we did bad, and this is what we never need to do again,’ “ Nauta said. “It was about improving and turning the negatives from week to week into positives.”
Nauta represented player development as much as any other player in Kirby Smart’s era, going from a talented but raw freshman, into one of the most highly rated tight ends in the draft.
Indeed, Nauta caught 30 of the 31 balls thrown in his direction (for 430 yards and 3 TDs), came up big in clutch situations and was the highest rated blocker among the NFL draft eligible tight ends in the SEC.
These SEC tight ends paved the way for their running backs this season! pic.twitter.com/OGYt4b3VoG
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 4, 2019
“I think it really started in my Buford days, we focused a lot in the fundamentals of blocking,” said Nauta, who finished his prep career at the IMG Academy in Florida. “That’s where ay good blocker starts, you have to have the right technique and fundamentals, and you have to want to beat the guy across from you.
“It’s getting the right positioning, beating him to a spot and keeping him from winning his gap.”
Tight ends find themselves blocking anything from 340-pound looping nose tackles to fleet-footed 185-pound safeties in the open field.
Nauta, as much as he likes he ball in his hands, has a passion for winning his blocks.
“Being a tight end, you have to love blocking,” Nauta said. “It’s not something you can do half-heartedly, or you’ll get whipped.”
Nauta’s film doesn’t lie, and NFL teams know exactly what they will be getting in outgoing Georgia football fan favorite.