Dylan Raiola, a top-ranked high school quarterback, set off celebrations in Nebraska by flipping his commitment Monday from Georgia to the Cornhuskers.
“Home is where the heart is,” Raiola, whose father, Dominic, was a standout offensive lineman at Nebraska, said in a video he posted online.
Assuming Raiola — who committed to Ohio State last year before switching to Georgia in May — follows through on his pledge to join the Cornhuskers, his arrival could provide a massive jolt to a program that has fallen on hard times over the past decade. A powerhouse from the 1960s through former coach Tom Osborne’s glory days in the 1990s, Nebraska hasn’t posted a winning record since 2016.
This year, its first under Coach Matt Rhule, the Cornhuskers went 5-7 while finishing 120th in scoring offense out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Nebraska was 15th in scoring defense, however, suggesting that a little help with putting points on the board could go a long way toward improving its fortunes.
As a senior this year at a Georgia high school, Raiola threw for 2,666 yards, 34 touchdowns and just one interception in 13 games (via MaxPreps). He is the No. 2 recruit in the 247 Sports rankings for the Class of 2024 and No. 8 in ESPN’s rankings.
In the video Raiola shared Monday, prominent mention is given to his father’s career at Nebraska. Playing there from 1998 to 2000 before a long career with the Detroit Lions, Dominic Raiola won the first Rimington Trophy as the best center in college football. In addition, the 18-year-old quarterback’s uncle, Donovan Raiola, is Nebraska’s offensive line coach.
“With all the noise, I tried to find what was right for me and my family … to build off the foundation laid before me,” Dylan Raiola said in the video, which shows him donning a Cornhuskers uniform and heading toward the field at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium. “But the past is the past, and we look to build a new future.”
The video also showed clips of Raiola’s high school highlights and of Rhule giving a fiery locker room speech, interspersed with the quarterback saying: “The leadership here, the fan base here, the culture here — the future is here. I’m here to stay.”
“I firmly believe that Nebraska is in my blood,” Raiola said Monday to ESPN. “It’s a great opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself. Nebraska is a special place.”
Raiola’s change of heart came on the same day that Georgia’s starting quarterback, Carson Beck, announced he was returning for his senior season. In his first year after taking over from Stetson Bennett, Beck was unable to lead Georgia to a third straight national championship but helped the team to a 12-1 record and a No. 6 national ranking. Along the way, Beck completed 72.4 percent of his passes for 3,738 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. He added 127 yards and four scores on the ground.
After committing to Georgia in May, Raiola had used his account on X, formerly known as Twitter, to applaud other recruits doing the same and to encourage undecided players to choose that program. On Monday, Raiola posted a poem to X in which he wrote, “No longer a cog in some powerhouse machine,/But a quarterback, with an even grander ambition unseen.”
Stints at Temple and Baylor, before an unsuccessful two-plus seasons with the Carolina Panthers, earned Rhule a reputation for turning around struggling programs. Monday’s news represented a coup for the 48-year-old coach, not to mention a long-awaited injection of talent for the Cornhuskers.
According to 247 Sports, Raiola is the first five-star player to choose Nebraska since it began rating recruits in 2010. ESPN said he is the highest-rated player in its rankings to pick the Huskers since 2006.