In a year in which Buford set the Georgia state record for points scored in a season, few were more important in this milestone than Isaac Nauta. As a sophomore, Isaac has already endured the growing pains that come with playing varsity football as a freshman. Coming in more prepared than ever, Nauta translated his hard work onto the field in the form of 19 receptions for 400 yards and five touchdowns. This productivity was achieved against very strong competition, and was deemed worthy of 2nd team All-America honors by MaxPreps.com.
"It went really well," said Nauta. "Basically, I had a lot of touchdowns and a lot of catches. I won Tight End of the year Award for our county, which has a lot of really good football players, so that was a big honor. We won another state championship, my 2nd personally, plus I had a great year defensively and started both ways. It was a really good year as I've improved on a lot of things from freshman to sophomore year. I was pleased, but I still have a lot more work to do to get ready for next season. Thankfully, the offense I'm in is perfect for me with how they use the tight end."
As one of the criteria for how he is sifting through colleges, Nauta pays close attention to the offensive scheme of his potential suitor. Nauta focuses on the role of the tight end, which should in theory give a good preview as to how he may be used in the future with that particular school. Isaac also watched Michigan play in 2013 and was encouraged by their use of true freshman tight end, Jake Butt.
However, you would be hard pressed to find an offense that would not benefit from the addition of Isaac Nauta, as the standout sophomore seemingly has all the tools necessary to be an elite tight end in college. At 6'5" and 240 lbs., Nauta would blend right into a college locker room and is the perfect red zone threat for Buford's offense. He also displays great mobility and agility for his size in addition to showing a willingness to block defenders and move the pile in the running game. Nauta really looks the part of a complete tight end and is developing as such.
"I would probably describe my game as a tight end that is equally as good in blocking as the passing game," said Nauta. "I'm not scared to put my hand down and block on third and short or fourth and short. I'm also one that wants to have the ball in my hands and I like to make plays for my team, so I don't want to be just a blocking tight end. I have the opportunity to make a difference catching the ball and make some plays. I can get after it when I need to blocking wise, but I can make some plays."
Because of his success and massive potential on both side of the ball, Nauta has already had to field offers at multiple positions. Out of the 18 division one offers to his name, with Michigan, Georgia, Florida State and Auburn among the bunch, Nauta has plenty of options laid out in front of him.
"A couple of my offers have been at defensive end, a couple are unspecific and some have been just for tight end," said Nauta. "It's something I would have to think about, but I feel like I'm definitely going to be a tight end. I love both positions. My uncle played defensive end in the NFL and growing up I always looked up to him at defensive end. That originally got me interested in the position. I think I'm going to be a tight end just because of how I run routes and can catch the ball. I've put a ton of time into being a good tight end."
Out of the cluster of schools involved at this point, Nauta mentions Florida State, Auburn, Georgia and Clemson among those who have been pursuing him the most lately. This is a good sign for his family, as they would prefer for him to stay within driving distance ideally.
"I think my parents would like for me to stay close, but they would want me to go where I feel is the best spot for me," said Nauta. "Knowing me and being more of a family guy, I would like to stay close to home, but distance isn't really a factor."
What is a factor, though, is the type of package that a school can present to Nauta. As a scholar in addition to an athlete, Isaac is very concerned with his studied. He also considers himself a fan of the college football experience, and would like for that to play a role in his future college as well.
"First and foremost I want to go to an academic school," said Nauta. "I want a good fanbase and a good atmosphere. I feel like for college football that is what you want to do- to play in front of a big crowd. It's all about playing in the big game on TV with 100,000 people watching you. I also want to go to the best place to develop me for the NFL one day. That starts at my position coach all the way up to my head coach. I want to put myself in an offense that fits me."
Once again, Nauta sees Michigan's offense as one that could be attractive moving forward with the use of their tight ends. Although 2013 had its fair share of rough spots, the tight end position was pretty widely dubbed as the team's lone bright spot. This heavy reliance on tight ends also bodes well for the Wolverines, who may be able to lure Nauta into the fold with proximity to his family as well.
"Yeah, I have family up in Michigan, so going up to Michigan definitely wouldn't be anything too difficult with the cold. I usually always am hot anyways, and you get warm running around so I wouldn't notice it too much. The cold wouldn't effect me that much."
With the offseason among us, the camp circuit has kicked off and prospects will return to making official and unofficial visits once the dead period is over later this week. Nauta admits that he isn't much of a camp guy, but the blue-chip tight end is a good bet to take some college visits during the football offseason, and he already has a few schools in mind.
"I'm definitely going to want to make my way down to Florida State," said Nauta. "They have some stuff going on down there that's pretty exciting. i like the position coach a lot. Both of his sons played tight end and he played tight end in the NFL. He's coached a lot of guys who have gone there. I also want to see some places that I haven't been to like South Carolina, Missouri and possibly Texas A&M. I might go up to Michigan in the Summer to see some family. If I go up to Michigan, I definitely would head up to Ann Arbor. I have a ton of stuff going on here with other sports and offseason training, so it's hard to make visits right now."