There’s been a ton of smoke about Dylan Raiola the past month. Everyone was high on his commitment after he surprise visited a few weeks ago since he was able to visit family and not violate NCAA rules. It didn’t take us fickle Husker fans to quickly get our defeated mentality once we saw he was at USC and working out. I’m going to go into a few of the reasons that I believe Raiola will be a Husker in the 2024 recruiting class. Even if he doesn’t commit this second time to us initially.
First, let’s go backwards for a bit…
So, with me knowing the previous head coach and some staff members, I don’t want to get into a ton of details on this first thing. While some of it is fact, being able to discern what parts are actually true and what has taken on a life of its own is difficult without actually being there. Let’s start with this, Raiola wouldn’t even be on Nebraska’s radar if not for his dad playing for us. While I can’t tell you who Dylan’s favorite team is, I can tell you there’s a special place for Nebraska within that family. That’s something that no other school no matter how good the visit or NIL package is can offer. We essentially are getting a head start in this race.
So with our head start, our previous head coach headed to Arizona to get in front of him. Again, not going into the details of this, but what I can tell you is that it most certainly hurt our chances instead of helping our chances. Things go south there (pun intended) and it doesn’t take long for Ryan Day and Ohio State to swoop in and garner his commitment. You see, Dominic is not much different than Clester Johnson in the fact that they both didn’t really believe that things would get better in Lincoln under the previous head coach. Not sure why Clester was labeled a Husker hater and Dom wasn’t, but that’s neither here nor there.
So a recap… only letting Nebraska in the door because of family, visit doesn’t go well with previous head coach, commits to Ohio State.
Decommitment from Ohio State
So Raiola is committed to Ohio State since May of 2022. And roughly 2 weeks after Nebraska fires Scott Frost and hires Matt Rhule, all of a sudden there’s a parting of ways between Raiola and the Buckeyes. Not a coincidence.
Now, i’m not sitting here telling you it’s all because of us making a change. I’m quite certain there were some factors with Ohio State that led to that decision as well. But Nebraska being “out” wasn’t due to what we could or couldn’t offer, with a new head coach a team that this family has interest in all of a sudden is back on the table. The Raiolas are a good family, if they were wanting to verify things with other schools they weren’t going to string a team along.
Now Ohio State isn’t really even in his finalists. So there is some truth that it was more about what he was feeling with Columbus. But there was also some truth that Nebraska possibly being back in the mix had something to do with it.
Nebraska sends the whole staff
In January, Matt Rhule took every coach except one of them down to Arizona to show how much of a priority Dylan was to Nebraska. A very different situation than what occurred almost a year ago. While this was early in the tenure for Rhule and company, it showed that things were operating much differently in Lincoln.
So what’s going against us?
There of course are reasons we need to worry. The biggest one is the unknown for the Raiolas. If Rhule had been here for a year, and we had already made it to a bowl game, it is my opinion that Dylan would be already verballed to us. Football sucks when you aren’t very good, it’s not fun to lose and get your ass kicked. Further, getting to the NFL for a QB usually happens when you are playing on a winning team.
One of the biggest things for the Raiolas is they are basically having to take Rhule at his word for what is going to happen at Nebraska, as opposed to Kirby Smart or Lincoln Riley being able to point to what they’ve already done to be successful. As i’ve said before, if we already had a bowl game under our belt showing improvement, I think he would be ‘N’ already. We aren’t going to show USC, Georgia, or Oregon success in 2023, so can we show enough to prove to them we aren’t going to go 4-8 when he’s here.
This last commitment he wants to be his last, so he has to get this one right. But it is a much bigger leap of faith with Nebraska in year 1 of a coach as opposed to established spots like USC or Ohio State. Oregon already had their first year coach prove he can win, so it’s less risky.
Back to positive
Let’s circle this back to why I would still put money on Nebraska to get his signature in the end. While i’m not entirely sure Kaelin from Bellevue West is what Rhule and company are looking for in a quarterback, I feel pretty confident that they wouldn’t have let him commit elsewhere if they didn’t like where they sit with Dylan.
I’ve heard some narrative going around that the reason we let Kaelin go is because we feel comfortable with our QB room right now and we could just go to the transfer portal. I don’t believe that to be the case at all. First, Rhule and his staff haven’t even seen our guys with pads on with his own eyes. And he’s not foolish enough to just say “hey in the winter conditioning stuff we got our QBs we need.” Also, Rhule didn’t grab a high school QB in his first recruiting class at Nebraska like Frost did with Martinez in 2018 (save me the “look how that worked out”), and they won’t go a second class without grabbing a high school kid. Every coaching staff needs at least one guy if not two right away to try and develop. Rhule likes building programs, and with his track record I don’t think he is going to pass on getting a high school guy. His first class at Baylor he brought in Charlie Brewer who was actually a very low ranking recruit. His second class he grabbed Gerry Bohanon, a four star QB recruit. He’s not going to skip two classes in a row for us with a high school player.
He’s letting Kaelin get away and our eggs are in the Raiola basket because of the mutual communication our coach has had with the family. Save me the “we better hope we get him” talk, Rhule isn’t dumb enough to put himself in a bad spot for getting a QB this class. He thinks Raiola is coming, but if he doesn’t we have backup options.
I’ve been pretty critical of Nebraska’s NIL situation the past couple of years. We just were all over the place and not even close to ready. We’ve seen the uptick in 1890 advertising, they even have a donate button that we were asking for. And in talking with someone very close to 1890, this Raiola situation is “a whole different animal”.
While Dylan has openly stated that NIL won’t drive where he goes, that seems to be the catchy thing that kids say nowadays. It’s like Trey Palmer saying that he was turning down NIL deals but selling NFTs through ABM for 15,000 a piece (can someone tell me if anyone actually bought those things?)
The good news is we have secured enough to get Raiola whatever he needs to sign with us. While NIL isn’t a driving factor, whichever team has offered the most, i’m quite certain the Raiolas will go to who they want to sign with and say “we are going to sign here but please match this NIL deal.” And let us all not forget, the person solidifying these funds and in contact with the Raiolas in regards to NIL was in Dominics recruiting class here at Nebraska. Another thing that any other school can’t compete with us on.
While i’m not 100% confident in him committing here, I would say my confidence level is higher than with him committing to other teams. They love the fact that his dad is on our stadium wall, and Dylan could help bring the team back to where it was when his dad played here. If there was some way they could know that Rhule is the same coach in September in Lincoln that they are hearing from in March, they would already be on board.
I expect this timeline to speed up in the next 30-45 days. While Raiola said he doesn’t want to put a timeline on things, if he is comfortable somewhere he is going to commit sooner than later so that school can bring in recruits around him and build their class. I think he’s comfortable at Nebraska.
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