Dylan Raiola: Why a ‘gold standard’ Georgia football program now has a strong chance with the nation’s No. 1 prospect
Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s the Intel. This rep has the latest on 5-star QB Dylan Raiola. He ranks as the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect for 2024 on the 247Sports Composite ratings. He’s also the No. 1 overall prospect for 247Sports, ESPN, On3, the On3 Consensus and for Rivals.
The Raiola family was thinking about being in Athens this weekend for the national championship celebration this past weekend, but their plans changed.
Dylan Raiola, the 5-star QB prospect, recently changed his profile on Twitter to a picture he took on a Georgia recruiting visit with the late Chandler Lecroy. He also has a #chandlerlecroy message in his bio on that same social media account.
Crystal balls and forecasts catch a lot of attention in this industry. The feeling here is that a classy gesture like that says more about where this young man’s heart is at right now. He might not sign with Georgia, but right now he is hurting and mourning alongside the UGA football family.
The consensus No. 1 overall prospect for the 2024 class has garnered a considerable amount of attention from Georgia fans after his de-commitment from Ohio State back on December 17.
Yet a recent conversation with Dylan’s father, Dominic, shared a good view of where the Bulldogs stand and how they have positioned themselves going forward.
“As you know, but I’m not sure that everyone knows that Georgia was the first [school] to come to the party,” his father said of his son’s first offer. “It just so happened that was the gold standard of college football programs. Or one of those gold standards. There are a few gold standards, but Georgia was the first to come to the party.”
“We’ve had a great relationship with Georgia. After he decommitted out of respect to everybody involved, we did take a break over Christmas and over New Year’s. We kind of took a breath. Took a deep breath and then went to the national championship.”
The Bulldogs, the first school to offer Dylan, were at one time seen as the team to beat for Raiola. He took a couple of visits to USC and Ohio State and it wasn’t long after that he made a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes on May 9, 2022.
The TCU connection was there for the Raiola family, but the ‘Dawgs were also playing for it all. Again.
“We did want to see Georgia because it is one of those programs that are super intriguing to Dylan. There is a handful of those right now. I think right now we are back in the process. We’ve learned a lot over the last eight months and it is just the same process now of going through it, seeing it and talking to the people involved. There have been some changes in different programs, but at the end of the time we’ve got time. Not as much time as you might think. But we’ve got some time. I know that Dylan’s interest in Georgia is real and without saying too much that’s kind of where he is at.”
It feels like the ‘Dawgs are on the shortlist for Dylan with other programs like Nebraska, Oregon and USC.
But that national championship night was the best possible recruiting pitch to a QB with a true generational talent at that position.
That whole night was a commercial for the Georgia football brand.
“You just dive into the program and just start with that they’ve got a great leader in coach [Kirby] Smart,” Dominic Raiola. “Talk about a guy directing the offense and it is a collective effort. You never really hear about this or that or it is an individual effort. There’s not too much chatter about that. It is a collective around that program.”
Raiola clearly knows what to prioritize when it comes to football. He was an All-American at Nebraska and played his entire 14-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions. He was there with Stafford and hosted him at Thanksgiving during his rookie year after leaving Georgia in 2009.
“If your goal is to play in the NFL you have to look at programs like Georgia,” he said. “The competition. Not just the competition in the SEC in the conference but the competition day-to-day in practice. Meetings. Weight room. Offseason. In-season. The classroom.”
“It is one of the gold standard programs. That game got out of hand. It sucked to be a TCU fan or football player that night. It was tough. Georgia came out hitting on all cylinders and whoa. That’s the next level, right? I was texting a few of my buddies and told them ‘The SEC looking like it is showing its colors tonight’ and that league is different. For sure.”
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What’s next for Dylan Raiola?
The Raiola family has not started thinking about which school will get his next visit.
They can look back to their path last year at this time. They didn’t go see any schools in January.
They eventually went out in March.
“I’m not sure how big or how tight this next part of the process is going to be,” his father said. “I really don’t know where we are at. I can’t tell you exactly. But I will tell you since we are talking about Georgia, that Georgia is in it.”
Look for the family to start with what they know. Schools like Georgia, Nebraska and TCU.
“I don’t know how big this is going to get,” Raiola said. “I really don’t. I think it is pretty public that Nebraska is in it. They are in it. I want to say Oregon. USC. Georgia obviously. I think if you asked me at the end of January and going into February I could give you a better picture. But right now it is the obvious ones. You just don’t know who is going to emerge and win Dylan over and win everybody over.”
“He’s a relationship guy. Those are the things that are going to carry him through to his decision. There is no timeline. There’s no timetable. We’ve got to sit back and look at everything and at the same time, this is an important time for development. It is not going to be just college this and college that. It is going to be a huge developmental time for Dylan and his classwork. If the goal is to early enroll, you got to make sure you handle the classroom and the developmental side. The physical development and the mental development and all of that.”
Raiola is right at the 6-foot-3 mark. He’s about 215 pounds. He’s finally healthy after an elbow issue during his junior season. It affected his mobility last fall.
“He played right through it after week seven,” his father said. “He’s healthy now. He’s been diligent with his training and his PT to get everything back in order. The boys are adding Pilates to the mix this year.”
“It’s not a secret with the [off-season] training. You just look at what the great ones that are a level or two levels ahead do. You just kind of mimic that. There’s a standard and a level of where you want to be and you just follow that blueprint. You’re not the first one to do it.”
When he was playing, he watched others centers. To see how they played. What they did. How they trained.
“Watch the other quarterbacks,” he said. “See how they play. See how they train. Pick their brains. You can steal little things here and there.”
“Shoot. It is an awesome time for him.”
What would be the most attractive thing about the ‘Dawgs to the Raiola family right now?
Raiola laughed a bit at that question. That was a tough one. A lot of elements came readily to his mind.
“If I had to narrow it down to one thing,” he said. “I don’t know if I could say one thing. I love the underdog mentality. When you are on top, do you know how hard it is to get guys going? I love that. I had a coach in the NFL once. His name was Jim Caldwell. He explained it to me. It was productive paranoia. It was something where you were always worried about somebody coming to get you. It can be a good thing in football.”
“I feel like Kirby has done a good job of keeping that building on their toes. It’s the same thing Nick [Saban] in Tuscaloosa in certain things. But when you get the best players in the country in one sport consistently and you build that into your program it is easy to have success. Now they are all believing that they are not the best when they really are? Do you know what I mean there? I think that’s pretty cool.”
It has been made clear to the Raiolas that the Bulldogs want to take two quarterbacks in the 2023 cycle. Ryan Puglisi, the current 2024 QB commit for the ‘Dawgs, made it very clear to DawgNation that he loves it in Athens.
He considers UGA home and told DawgNation that he’s coming in to compete. Regardless.
“I am a ‘Dawg,” Ryan Puglisi said. “I want to be a ‘Dawg. I am going to compete no matter what. I have had a ton of conversations with Coach [Kirby] Smart and coach [Todd] Monken and they both have all been great. I am here to compete and that is what I want to do.”
Check out the sophomore film for Raiola.
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A key connection for Georgia with Dylan Raiola
Georgia picked up a HUGE recruiting win out of California earlier this month in 4-star Peyton Woodyard. That was big for the future back end of the Georgia secondary.
The back end just added a smart and physical and athletic three-down safety who will enroll at Georgia having started in an extremely similar defensive scheme for four years at one of the gold-standard high school football programs in the country.
St. John Bosco was named the mythical high school national champion for 2022 by almost every national service.
But that Woodyard pledge might have a considerable ancillary benefit with the Raiola recruitment. Those two have a great relationship. They’ve gotten to know one another over the years. The top players in every class seem to all get to know one another and link up in text chats by the time they are highly-touted freshmen prospects picking up national offers.
“That’s my guy and it would be huge if he came to Athens,” Woodyard said. “I think he would fit in great and he would bring great leadership to the program. Not just an elite talent.”
That’s a strong point to be made here, but that’s the sort of things All-American prospects say about one another from time to time. Not all the time, though.
The real uncommon piece of the puzzle here was what Raiola had to say about the Woodyard family. The Raiolas are very strong in their faith and that’s evident by the first in-depth profile DawgNation wrote about Raiola last year.
“If anybody knows the Woodyards, it is pretty easy to see that is a kid that you want your kid to be around,” Dominic Raiola said. “You want your kid to hang around. You want your family to hang around. It is super easy to connect with people like that. They are like-minded. The same value system. The same standards. Shoot, to me, people like that are the people that you want in your kids’ lives. Especially if they want that.”
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