The 6-foot-4, 240-pounder from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy has been one of the most consistent players through the first two days. Even though Nauta is a tight end, he has routinely made cornerbacks look silly in one-on-one drills with his crisp route running and ability to catch the ball away from his body.
He’s also a player that has a strong interest in USC despite never being to California.
“I’ve always wanted to go out on the West Coast,” Nauta said. “The furthest I’ve gone was Arizona and that wasn’t even for football. I’ve just wanted to see the L.A. lifestyle, the Cali lifestyle.
“I know the Rose Bowl and [the Coliseum] over there — they’re both something special when it gets rocking, so I’m going to try to take an official to the USC/UCLA game, so that I can see it at its biggest moments.”
The Trojans offered Nauta early during his junior season and he said the Trojans are “really one of the only teams in the Pac-12 that has extended an offer.” He has since then become the top tight end in Florida and the No. 3 tight end in the nation. Nauta is listed as the No. 79 player in the Scout 300.
With the Trojans’ depth concerns at the tight end position, Nauta sees opportunity and USC tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo keeps reminding him of it.
“He definitely uses the depth pitch. Obviously, they’ve had to release some tight ends for some different issues,” Nauta said. “There are real slim pickings at tight end. I know another kid committed, but that doesn’t really affect me either way. I just want to go out there and see it.”
That’s part of the reason the Florida State commit is considering using one of his five official visits on USC. Another reason is that he knows the Trojans want to continue to use the tight ends.
“A lot of the schools are getting away from tight ends and spreading it out, using more wide receivers, but SC really wants to use the tight end,” Nauta said. “That was one of the big reasons for why I picked Florida State because [former FSU tight end Nick] O’Leary at least had six, seven catches a game, if not more.
“That was another thing that Coach Tui was pressing on is that they want to get me the ball a lot and want me to be a big part of their offense, which is huge. Like I’ve always said, for a tight end, that’s huge. You want to be a guy that is a playmaker and can get the ball.”
Originally from Buford, Ga., Nauta said he has been picking the brains of USC commit Josh Imatorbhebhe, who lived not far Nauta and played at schools that were just seven miles apart. He said he’s also talked to another Georgian, USC freshman lineman Chuma Edoga, as well as the Trojans’ most vocal 2016 commit, linebacker Daelin Hayes.
“I’ve got some good connections out there.”
While he's yet to visit California, he's already heard plenty of good things, which could land the Trojans that official visit.