Isaac Nauta completed his official visit to UGA on Monday. The 5-star tight end flew in from Florida on Saturday and toured the campus with his father, mother and sister. He’s one of the biggest remaining priorities for the 2016 class.
He could not be reached for comment about the trip, but his mother shared a very direct opinion about how it went.
“Georgia absolutely feels like a great fit to us and it always has,” Lisa Nauta said. “I personally don’t see a downside to Georgia. Living here and loving Georgia and wanting to continue to make this our home I think that (his father) Jay and I and our daughter always want to live in the South now no matter where Isaac ends up. This will still be our home. I think if he would choose Georgia I just think that once he’s out of school the connections that will be made there will just be a positive thing.”
Lisa Nauta told the AJC’s DawgNation.com that the 38-10 loss to Alabama created a question in her mind. Nauta still has not lost a regular season game in high school after three years at Buford High School and now into his senior season at Florida’s IMG Academy.
“I asked Isaac about the loss after the game and if the way that went affected his feelings about Georgia,” she said. “He told me that it did not. He didn’t seem discouraged or let down by that outcome at all.”
She estimated at least “a dozen” fans acknowledged Nauta by his last name and even gave the group a thumbs-up as they walked by. The Nautas even learned that a 70-year-old UGA fan somehow noticed his lanyard and official visitor name badge on a table and took it as a souvenir. The UGA recruiting staff quickly had to have a duplicate made for her son.
“I got a kick out of that,” Lisa Nauta said. “A 70-year-old fan took it upon herself to grab his lanyard as a souvenir. Isn’t that really funny?”
The Nautas ate dinner after Saturday’s game with tight ends coach John Lilly and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and their wives.
“To see the way those men interacted around their wives was another sign to me that there are good people coaching in Athens,” she said.
She was “more than pleased” about the stadium atmosphere for a big game.
“I walked away thinking this was a place I could bring a grandparent or my mother or a small child of any age and feel comfortable,” she said. “It wasn’t crazy wacky like some of the stadiums with that over-the-top music. It wasn’t that at all. It felt really good to go to a game at Georgia. It really did.”
She said the family was pleased to spend some time with first-year offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“I have always had a good vibe from the first time I visited Georgia,” Lisa Nauta said. “Because I like coach (Mark) Richt and (tight ends) coach John Lilly so well. But now I’ve had a chance to meet Brian Schottenheimer and I really really loved him. I thought he was such a down-to-earth guy with a cheerful and positive attitude.”
Nauta’s immediate family will not be able to attend his official visit to Michigan later this month. But that’s okay. His parents took an unofficial visit to Michigan last fall. His aunt and uncle will be there to support him on that visit. His uncle is an alum and his daughter was on the water polo team during her time in Ann Arbor.
He will also visit Ole Miss on Oct. 24 and USC for a Nov. 7 game against Arizona. His uncle Joel Smeenge played for 11 seasons in the NFL and lives near TCU. Smengee and his family will escort Nauta on his official visit to that campus on Nov. 27.
“My brother Joel has a lot of good things to say about TCU,” Lisa Nauta said.
Lisa Nauta was also excited that UGA would be adding an indoor practice field. She noticed that last year when she visited UGA and felt that was a glaring omission compared to the other major programs that are recruiting her son. She said there’s a possibility that her son might come back for an unofficial visit, but didn’t feel it would be necessary.
“We’ve had so many of our questions answered about Georgia that I don’t know what they could do,” she said. “I think we’re at the point now that any questions could be answered with a phone call. They have made it clear that they would really love to have Isaac be a part of their 2016 team.”
Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.