When Donovan Raiola was hired by coach Scott Frost this offseason, one of the big questions was how well he would perform on the recruiting trail. Raiola didn’t have much college coaching experience so it was fair to wonder how he would adapt to the new world of recruiting. Things are much different than when he was a college player at Wisconsin in the early 2000s. The three-time honorable mention All-Big Ten selection has shown some skills on the trail early in his time with Nebraska.
The Huskers have landed a pair of offensive linemen—Sam Sledge and Brock Knutson—since he joined the staff. The team is also in the running for several more offensive linemen this cycle. Zalance Heard, Bo Hughley, Cayden Green and JR Sia are all on the board.
We are learning more about how Raiola operates on the recruiting trail. Recruits are responding to his no-nonsense approach. They enjoy getting in the film room with him and breaking down game tape. Media didn’t get to observe any practice this spring so we haven’t seen how he coaches up players. Nebraska players commented on the change in style that Raiola has brought to the table.
“I think Coach Raiola said it once that as an offense, we’re trying to get better by being mentally tough, being physically tough, being leaders around the team even if we’re not vocal,” Nouredin Nouili said. “We’re showing up every day, we’re all wearing the same clothes, we’re all going at the same time and that brings people with us, and that’s something that we haven’t had here.”
The Adidas OL/DL Pipeline Camp presented an opportunity to see a mixture of both coaching and recruiting from Raiola.
— Greg Smith (@GregSmithHV) June 18, 2022
Raiola seemed to take a pretty hands-on approach while coaching during the camp. He was energetic and showed passion for coaching the position that is critical to the Huskers’ success this season. He really appeared to like getting into the finer details of offensive line play. We saw him going over details with campers that were there to get better. He also went over technique with other coaches who were there to observe.
The spotlight was on the first-year offensive line coach Saturday on a sweltering Lincoln afternoon. The coach seemed right at home on the field talking hand placement and blocking angles.
Other observations and notes
>> Matthew Fobbs-White is a 2023 edge rusher from Neville High School in Louisiana. He was spotted at Friday Night Lights and was a standout there because of his size (6-3, 220). I did some digging and it turns out that not only did he attend the same high school as freshman running back Ajay Allen, but they are first-cousins. Fobbs-White then came out and performed at the camp on Saturday. He won a lot of reps during one-on-ones and got tons of attention from the Nebraska coaching staff. He holds a handful of scholarship offers right now including Baylor and Oklahoma State. I’m curious if he leaves Lincoln holding a Husker offer.
>> A lot times at these camps there are future prospects to keep an eye on. Class of 2026 Georgia offensive lineman Preston Clark will be on the radar for years to come. Clark attends Buford High School in Georgia. That is the powerhouse program that produced Gabe Ervin. Clark (6-0, 235) has some growing to do but showed great technique during the camp on Saturday.
>> The Huskers always have smaller school coaching staffs at these camps. They are able to get a look at prospects too. A couple weeks ago Northern Iowa had Joe Ganz at Friday Night Lights. I spotted Peru State coaches at the camp chatting with coach Scott Frost. South Dakota also had a couple coaches there checking out the action.