The momentum for Georgia and new head coach Kirby Smart is continuing to build. The Bulldogs landed a major piece to their 2016 class when 5-star tight end Isaac Nauta announced his commitment to Georgia during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The 6’3”, 244-pounder, who is originally from Buford, Georgia, will now head to Athens after choosing the Bulldogs over finalists Alabama and Michigan.
That proximity to home certainly didn’t hurt the Bulldogs' chances, but his bond with Smart also helped Georgia’s push to land him in the end.
Top-ranked TE Isaac Nauta, a former FSU commit, pledges to Georgia over Michigan and Alabama. "I'm staying home," he says during broadcast.— Tyler Donohue (@TDsTake) January 9, 2016
"It's close to home and there's always a chance to win the SEC East with all the talent around the area," Nauta told Bleacher Report’s Tyler Donohue earlier this week. "I have a good relationship with Kirby Smart."
Nauta is the No. 9 overall prospect in the 2016 class and the nation’s top tight end prospect. As an added bonus, he will be on campus later this month as an early enrollee.
But there are many layers to his pledge that make it even more significant for the Bulldogs.
For starters, he’s an elite tight end who gives the Bulldogs a pass-catching threat and poses instant mismatch problems for defenses as soon as he steps foot on the field.
He also possesses the physical toughness necessary to step into the SEC and immediately be a factor.
Isaac Nauta is also one of the toughest guys I have covered. Guy is old-school. pic.twitter.com/1TmbBPhv7H— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) January 9, 2016
Nauta was dominant at The Opening over the summer, and he continued to flash his abilities both as a receiver and as a physical blocker in the run game during practices in San Antonio this week, as detailed by Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.
Given the fact that he will get a chance to go through spring drills, he’ll have a shot to master the playbook of new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney by the time fall rolls around—which is his main goal now that his recruitment is finished.
"I want to get with coaches every day and learn the offense so by the time spring ball rolls around I'll be ready to go. I want to play right away as a freshman," Nauta told Donohue.
With fellow 5-star recruit and early enrollee Jacob Eason a threat to be the Bulldogs starting quarterback this fall, pairing him with a battery mate such as Nauta would give him a safety net when things break down.
Another benefit of Nauta’s pledge is the boost it could give the Bulldogs down the stretch.
Smart and his staff have a handful of elite prospects, such as 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown and 5-star athletes Mecole Hardman Jr. and Demetris Robertson, who are all heavily considering staying in-state and choosing Georgia.
Regardless of who joins him in Athens, Nauta is the type of weapon who can make an immediate impact next season—which makes his commitment one worth celebrating for Bulldogs fans.
Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Information from Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue was used in this story. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.