SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Isaac Nauta did not know UGA had hired a new tight ends coach, but he learned about it while walking off the field from Tuesday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl practice.
The nation’s No. 1 tight end was interested in who UGA coach Kirby Smart had brought onboard. That would be former Virginia Tech assistant Shane Beamer, the son of legendary coach Frank Beamer.
“Just heard about it and I know nothing about him,” Nauta said. “However I will talk to Kirby Smart this afternoon. He wants me to call him so I will talk to him after practice. I know that (Beamer) has had two good tight ends at Virginia Tech — this year especially — so he’s got a good track record of tight ends.”
He said Smart told him to trust him while he filled that position.
“Kirby told me he was going to get a guy who is going to make me better every day as a player, and that’s something I want,” Nauta said. “I believed he was going to get a guy who was going to stay on me and demand excellence.”
Nauta — a rare 5-star recruit at that position — has UGA, Alabama and Michigan as his three finalists. He told Dawgnation.com he makes his final decision tonight privately.
“I think I got a pretty good idea of where I want to go now,” Nauta said.
The Dacula resident will then tell his family about his decision. The rest of the world will find out during the fourth quarter of NBC’s Army All-American Bowl broadcast on Saturday afternoon. He’s not planning anything elaborate with his ceremony.
“I will just do a hat,” Nauta said.
The 6-foot-4, 244-pounder also shared a few more thoughts about what’s ahead for him over the next week.
- There’s a chance he might walk-on to the baseball team with whichever school he chooses. He said his fastball had been clocked as high as 90 miles per hour going into his freshman year of high school. He’ll have a discussion about that with his future football coach once he makes his commitment.
- He talks to Smart “quite a bit.” He said Smart hits him up via his direct messages on Twitter to give him a call. Mark Richt used to be the one college head coach he was the most directly involved with in his recruiting prior to his dismissal. Nauta said Smart has now taken over that role.
- “He doesn’t recruit you like a head coach,” Nauta said. “I say that because I feel he does a lot of the work in my recruitment as far as reaching out and doing all the extra stuff to show how much he wants you as a player. Other head coaches don’t do that. Here’s a guy who has a lot on his plate being the head coach at Georgia and preparing for a bowl or a national title game, but still finds the time to DM (direct message on Twitter) me or DM me back when I respond to him.”
- Nauta said he’ll bring his framed IMG jersey and an American and a state of Georgia flag to hang on the wall when he moves into college.
- He has been told by all three of his finalists he can wear No. 18 in college. That is his intention.
- In a light moment, UGA commit Julian Rochester made sure to shout “Go Dawgs” while walking by DawgNation’s interview with Nauta. The sounds of that yell probably shook a few windowpanes of the press box at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio.
Jeff Sentell covers UGA football and 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.