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Nebraska Pulling Out All The Stops to Land No. 1 Overall Recruit Dylan Raiola

January 27, 2023

Matt Rhule and the Nebraska coaching staff left no doubt in the Raiola Family living room when the door shut behind them on Friday. They’re serious about the turnaround. And they’re serious about bringing Dylan Raiola to Lincoln.

At least nine members of the Nebraska coaching staff converged on Chandler, Arizona, to meet with the quarterback recruit on Friday. It was the final time Nebraska could visit Raiola during the January recruiting period. Rhule and/or additional assistants visited Arizona once a week in that window. Rhule commemorated a visit to Chandler earlier this week with a tweet involving a Nebraska-branded boombox and a few Chandler Wolves-branded footballs.

Nebraska remains firmly in the running for the No. 1 overall recruit of the 2024 recruiting class. He would be the highest-rated Husker recruit of all-time should he sign with Nebraska. National recruiting experts based in Arizona said Raiola is college ready now, ahead of his senior high school season.

Raiola was heavily recruited last year despite committing to Ohio State early in May. He de-committed during the December quiet period, although the recruiting landscape around him was anything but quiet in the wake of his decision.

“I just felt like I had to re-think some things, definitely take a second look,” Raiola said of his decision. “I feel like I committed too early and I’m thankful for a second chance. That’s kind of where we’re at now and we’ll make the best choice we can in these next four or five months.”

Raiola attended the annual Polynesian Bowl earlier this month and shared some insight on his recruitment. While getting courted by nearly every team in the country, Raiola said it’s been a “crazy process.” He’s met football players he’s looked up to and there have been plenty of “cool moments,” but above all he’s thankful for his family for their guidance.

“Keep your circle small,” Dylan said was the advice his father, Dominic, gave him. “Don’t let that many people in. You can have a lot of friends but your inner circle is going to be your tightest people closest to you. So keep that small and trust your circle, mainly my parents.”

Of course, Dominic is a former Husker and longtime NFL veteran. He told longtime Husker columnist Steve Sipple earlier this week that he wants his son to go to a school where he can develop as a person. Nebraska still holds a firm place in Dominic’s heart and in his home. It’s not just another program, he said. Considering the new facilities, new coaching staff and investments made to the program, the Rimington Award winner and Nebraska Hall of Famer considered his old program to be a “sleeping giant.”

But Nebraska’s not the only school in the running. Georgia is heavily recruiting Raiola as well and both Oregon and USC are among the four finalists at this point. While the family hasn’t announced their plans, it’s likely Raiola will visit all four this spring and/or summer. As is the nature of college football, another school could make a late run.

Raiola attended the College Football Playoff National Championship Game in Arlington, Texas, alongside his sister, who plays volleyball at TCU. The top 2024 recruit spoke highly of Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and the monster he’s awoken in Athens.

When asked about USC, the head coach’s track record stands out. Head coach Lincoln Riley has directly developed three Heisman Trophy winners—Caleb Williams, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. Raiola also likes Riley’s play calling tendencies and how his offense is built on his playmakers controlling the ball.

Oregon has emerged as a finalist because of head coach Dan Lanning. The Ducks finished in the top 20 and won the Holiday Bowl in Lanning’s first year as head coach after four seasons running defense at Georgia. Raiola previously said in an interview he’s excited to see what offense Will Stein will run at Oregon. Stein comes from UTSA and replaces Kenny Dillingham, who is now the head coach at Arizona State.

That leaves Nebraska. The top recruit previously visited Lincoln for the Spring Game and was on the sidelines this fall. Raiola is no stranger to the program’s standard, growing up in his father’s household. But Raiola is particularly drawn to Matt Rhule’s energy and the excitement his coaching staff has brought into Lincoln.

“Fans in Lincoln are excited. I, personally, am excited, with my dad going there and everything that goes on with that,” Raiola said in a YouTube interview earlier this month. “Really excited to get back there and see what they have to offer and see what Nebraska’s about.”

That was said before the excitement came to him and the Rhule coaching staff entered the Raiola home.

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