Isaac Nauta should see UGA at its finest this week with Alabama in town. What does the nation’s No. 1 tight end think would constitute a perfect official visit for UGA?
“Every time I have gone they’ve rolled out the red carpet,” Nauta said. “Every visit I’ve been to Georgia has been a really good one. If they do pretty much everything they’ve done in the past for me and I get that gut feeling (it is the place) then that would pretty much be the perfect situation for Georgia to make an impression on me with the visit.”
The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder will watch the tight ends against Alabama. Starter Jeb Blazevich should be his host. They get along well. Nauta will also assess the overall performance of the offense. The 5-star recruit will be sure to monitor the crowd and see how it supports the team.
The uncommon part of his visit takes place on Sunday.
“My time with coach Mark Richt the following day will be huge, too,” Nauta said. “I will be sure to pay close attention to what he has to say.”
The IMG Academy (Fla.) transfer from Buford already knows the value of a UGA degree.
“So many kids apply to Georgia and don’t get in,” Nauta said. “I know it is not an easy school to get into. The UGA degree and alumni base is huge. A degree from UGA is definitely a good one. They definitely have what I am looking for academically.”
He’ll pursue a degree in Sports Marketing or Sports Management or a business degree. He aims to be a coach after he hangs up his helmet.
Nauta is always getting edits and communication from the entire UGA staff. Tight ends coach John Lilly is involved. He hears from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. He’s gotten letters from almost the entire staff. He’ll often interact with Lilly, Richt, offensive line coach Rob Sale and Schottenheimer on Twitter.
“It is usually not about football,” he said. “The stuff I hear from Georgia is about me as a person.”
He estimates it will be his sixth or seventh trip to UGA. It will be the most important.
It can be argued there are only a handful of prospects in this class the program hopes to sign as much as Nauta. The nation’s top-ranked tight end is a rare 5-star talent at his position. He mauls defenders in the run game, but has the moves to shed 4-star defensive backs in coverage.
Nauta also plans to visit Michigan for the Michigan State game on Oct. 17. He visits Ole Miss the following week for the Texas A&M game. Nauta will be at USC on Nov. 7 for the Arizona game. He’ll see TCU play Baylor on Nov. 27. That program will create a position for him since they don’t have anyone like him on their roster.
He can mention tidbits like that about every school.
Shea Patterson, his quarterback at IMG, has surpassed UGA commit Jacob Eason as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in the eyes of many analysts. Patterson is committed to Ole Miss. He can tell him how pretty the girls will be in Oxford every day. Nauta even admitted that Ole Miss has made a huge surge in his mind the last few months.
Yet none of those statements may cause DawgNation as much alarm as this: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is personally recruiting him. Jay Harbaugh, his brother, is even the tight ends coach.
“They definitely sell me on how much they get the tight end the ball,” Nauta said. “The stats have definitely shown their tight ends have been the most active so far in college football. They have targeted them the most. They’ve had the most tight ends on the field. Coach Harbaugh is sending me stats like that all the time. Its pretty impressive.”.
His criteria is not just catches. He also wants to put his hand on the ground and make an impact as a blocker. The fact that one of the most visible head coaches in college football is going hard after Nauta shows his worth.
But UGA has countered that. Nauta said no head coach is as actively involved in his recruiting as Richt.
“That is for sure a plus,” Natua said. “For a head coach to take time out of his busy schedule to personally reach out has just been huge.”
— RELATED: If you don’t know about Nauta, make sure you read his inspiring personal story and be sure to check out his senior year highlights so far at IMG. He’s actually starting at defensive end and tight end this week. That’s just like old times for him back at Buford.
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.