IMG Academy tight end Isaac Nauta is without question one of the top five recruits on UGA’s wish list this year. That means he’ll instantly be on the must-recruit list of the soon-to-be-named UGA head coach Kirby Smart.
Like maybe only a few rungs below hiring a staff, naming an offensive coordinator with a Pro-Style affinity and making sure a certain 5-star quarterback would rather beat the Gators than play for them.
The Smart news dominated the state on Tuesday night. So what does the nation’s No. 1 tight end prospect think about that choice?
“Well, I’ve known Kirby Smart since my spring going into my freshman year,” Nauta told DawgNation. “So he’s been on the recruiting trail for awhile and I’ve taken a few visits to Alabama. He was actually the one who first offered me at Alabama. I’ve known him for a long time and I think it’s a huge pickup right there.”
Isaac Nauta will take official visits to UGA, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss. (Jeff Sentell / AJC)
Nauta called himself a “huge coach Mark Richt fan” and said he’s been nothing but great to him.
“It was definitely weird to see him go,” Nauta said. “Especially since he’s been the face of the program for a long time. But with me it has always just been you have to look at the program and the university itself and its location and not just the coaches. The coaching staff is just the cherry on top. As far as Georgia goes, they will definitely stay among my top schools.”
How did the Richt news affect him?
“Well I was definitely a bit nervous,” Nauta said. “But then I had my head on thinking that Georgia is a top program and a big-time program and a lot of people would love to coach there. So I knew Georgia would get a good coach. I just didn’t know who it was going to be. So when I heard that Kirby Smart news I was really excited about that.”
Does that choice preserve his interest in UGA? Or does it spike it?
“Well, I will definitely have to see who he brings in as an offensive coordinator,” Nauta said. “Because I am definitely a guy who likes a Pro-Style scheme and a big thing for me is his ‘OC’ and what type of offense he wants to run.”
The 6-foot-4, 237-pounder shared the following nuggets with DawgNation regarding the rest of his recruiting:
- He will announce a Top 3 via his Twitter account right around December 20th.
- The senior will make his commitment public at the U.S. Army All-American game on Jan. 9.
- That said, he will make his decision around mid-to-late December.
- Nauta applied to all his top schools to make sure he will enroll at the school he decides on. He’s on a unique path as an early enrollee, but also as a player who still is not sure where he will go. He must be accepted into each of his top schools to be certain he would be admitted in time to start classes after the U.S. Army game.
- He’s taken all five of his official visits, but will narrow it to three after his in-home visits.
- He said there’s a chance he will go up to Florida — perhaps this week with Jacob Eason in town — for an unofficial visit.
- He likely will not be able to attend the UGA end-of-the-year banquet, commonly known as the Senior Gala, on the weekend of Dec. 11. He will still be taking his finals at IMG.
- He said his IMG Academy team is slated to play the Class 6A GHSA state champion in Georgia in December. That game will be hyped as a national championship, he said.
- Oklahoma State will stop by for an in-home visit on Dec. 2.
- The UGA staff will visit this Thursday.
- Alabama’s in-home visit will be on Dec. 9.
- Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh visited him on Monday, but the in-home visit will be on Dec. 12.
- Nauta said that Florida did not get an official, but is right on the edge of his top schools.
- He does hope to make the time to visit with UGA’s new coaching staff soon.
Nauta said he will make his own decision after he gets done with finals in December. He said all the schools that he took his official visits to (UGA, Alabama, Michigan, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State) are recruiting him very hard right now, along with Florida.
“The gut feeling is the big thing for me now (with his decision) and probably right now more than ever,” Natua said. “It is definitely will be where I feel most comfortable in every phase of it. That’s school, coaching staff, place to live, team, community and the whole nine yards.”
Will family and his proximity to his family be a big deal? His parents live in Dacula. His sister attends Kennesaw State University in Cobb County. He also has extended family in Western Michigan.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “For sure.”
— Don’t know much about Nauta? Make sure you read his inspiring personal story
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.