247Sports’ No. 1 ranked rookie in the 2024 class, Phoenix (Arizona) Pinnacle five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola, announced his commitment to Georgia, choosing the Bulldogs over fellow finalists Nebraska, Oregon and USC.
Raiola’s commitment pushes this Georgia 2024 class to the top of the 247Sports composite rookie rankings.
“Georgia are the creme de la creme,” Raiola has told 247Sports in the past. “They do everything with such class and they do everything the right way!”
Raiola spoke more with 247Sports about his engagement shortly after going public.
“I’m drawn to the culture and level of Georgia and the more time passed, the stronger I felt,” Raiola said. “There was a lot of silence and a lot of calm and I learned a lot through this process who I can lean on and who I can count on and another thing that I loved, Georgia is not not built on one person or group of positions, it’s a complete program that I can be a part of.”
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Smart Kirby and his staff was actually the first to offer Raiola in June 2021 and the blue-chipper has been to Athens six times, including the weekend of March 18, a trip that reminded Raiola why he loves the Bulldog program.
“Certainly,” Raiola said. “So refreshing! Special.
“Going back up there, seeing all the coaches, seeing everyone in the building, it was so refreshing to be there. I felt the love from everyone. Being able to watch them train with a purpose closer and being able to hold a script in my hand and go down that path was huge, just understanding the offense and seeing me in my place.
Raiola gave to Nebraska, his father Dominic’s alma mater and a program that means so much to the family (the eldest Raiola was an All-American offensive lineman at Lincoln and won the Rimington Trophy as a senior. He went on to play 12 years with the Detroit Lions)one last chance to change his mind the following weekend after that UGA trip, but Raiola came out of the trip still feeling like a Bulldog.
Now it officially is.
“Coach Smart has built something special for college football,” Raiola said. “He went to Georgia and it means a lot to him to build this place! It’s such a special place!”
From Smart to Mike Bobo to Montgomery VanGorder to David Cooper, many people helped recruit Raiola to Georgia. VanGorder was a constant factor.
“Smart KirbyI will start with him as the leader he is,” Raiola said. How he makes his coaches and players play for him and play for this city of Athens. Dawg Nation is always proud of them Coach Bobo knows, is lucky to know (Matt) Stafford (who played with Raiola’s dad with the Detroit Lions) and having additional information about Bobo with Stafford (from his time in Georgia) is important. I think just competing, playing in the SEC, doesn’t get anything better than that.
“It came full circle as Mike Bobo developed Uncle Matthew while in Georgia. The substance behind their success is the most important factor. Coach Smart has built this program to last. I am delighted to be part of it. Whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or in the weight room, I know that I will be pushed to do my best every day.”
Georgia was the frontrunner for much of the Raiola process, but there were some big twists along the way, with Ohio State gaining momentum this time last year. Raiola then signed with the Buckeyes in May, but ultimately did not feel well and reopened the process in December. A few weeks later, he watched as the Bulldogs won the National Championship game against TCU.
“Georgia are going to be the team to beat!” Raiola told 247Sports after that experience. “I don’t see any school catching them.”
USC made it interesting after that, Nebraska made it attractive, but Georgia won out in the end.
“Georgia is different!” said Raiola.
Raiola is contracted No. 12 for Georgia in the 2024 cycle and is now becoming a full-fledged scout working on the likes of five-star receivers Jeremiah Smith and ryan wingotop security KJ Bolden and vaunted tight butt Jaden Reddell. The Bulldogs will make a run in the 2022 Texas A&M class ranked No. 1 all-time in the 247Sports era since 2010.
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Raiola is expected back in Georgia for this weekend’s scavenger hunt and also has his official locked up for the June 2 weekend.