#1 + #1
Most fans know by now that the #1 Quarterback* in the class of 2024, Dylan Raiola, has committed to the University of Georgia. But there is a lot more to the story.
Dylan, who attended three high schools including his senior season at Pinnacle High in the Phoenix area, is ranked as not only the #1 Quarterback* in the class of 2024, but he is also the #1 ranked overall prospect* in that class. Is a #1 + #1 rare? Well, over the past ten years there have been only 5 high school QBs who were both #1 at their position and also the #1 recruit overall.
Trevor and Bryce set the bar high as NFL #1 picks
Back in 2018 Trevor Lawrence was ranked #1 in both categories; he became a starter his freshman year, took Clemson to the national championship with a win over Alabama, and over the next three years become a dominant QB and catapulted to the #1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The next #1 + #1 was Bryce Young in the class of 2020. His brilliant career at Alabama produced first team All-American status as well as the Heisman Trophy. (Throw in a ton of NIL!) Only a national championship eluded Bryce and his Bama teammates as he posted a 23-4 won/loss record over his two years as starter. In 2023 Bryce matched Trevor as the #1 pick in the NFL Draft of 2023.
Texas, Penn State and yet again Texas in the QB lottery
In 2021 Quinn Ewers emerged from Southlake Caroll High School in Southlake,Texas as yet another #1 + #1 Quarterback. Initially recruited by Ohio State but unable to unseat CJ Stroud, Ewers transferred to Texas and started 10 games in 2022. He has shown signs of brilliance, like his electric start vs Alabama last year where Quinn was 9 of 12 for 134 yds in the first quarter before leaving the game with a left shoulder injury. After an impressive Spring Game he was named the Texas starter for 2023, but he’ll be facing some tough competition for that role as we’ll see later…
Tossing an honorable mention in here for Drew Allar in the class of 2022. Drew was actually the #1 ranked QB and the #3 ranked prospect, so just below our discussion criteria. But, Allar has Nittany Lion fans excited about prospects even in the wake of the graduation of Sean Clifford who holds Penn State records for wins (32), completion percentage (.614) , completions (833), passing yards (10,661), and passing TDs (86). Clifford moves on to the Green Bay Packers, and at 6’5 and 242 lbs Allar just may have what it takes to fill Clifford’s shoes.
In the class of 2023 we have none other than a Manning legacy in the form of one Arch Manning. A bona fide #1 + #1 out of Isidore Newman HS in New Orleans. Manning answered coach Steve Sarkisian’s invitation to join the Longhorns in Austin, Texas. Which, as we mentioned earlier, has crowded the Longhorns QB depth chart with TWO QBs both rated as #1 Quarterbacks as well as the #1 prospect in the land. Just to make it interesting, 4 star Maalik Murphy will enter summer camp as the backup to Ewers.
The Dylan Raoila sweepstakes
That brings us up to Dylan Raiola and the 2024 class. Dylan in Spring 2022 had committed to Ohio State, but once he was elevated to #1 + #1 he decommitted from the Buckeyes and opened the recruiting back up. The field included UGA, USC and among others… Nebraska. Huh? Why Nebraska? Well, it turns out that Dylan’s father Dominic plays a huge role in the development and journey of his Quarterback son.
The Raiola family has a rich football legacy, starting with Dylan’s grandfather Tony Raiola who played offensive line for the Miami Hurricanes back in the day. Dylan’s father, Dominic, played center for the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, Nebraska. But, Dom didn’t “just play.” He was, in fact, the first ever winner of the Rimington Award, which recognizes the best center in the country. The award is named for Nebraska alumnus Dave Rimington, a center who was a two-time All America and two-time winner (and the only two time winner in history) of the Outland Trophy. So, it’s a big deal for a Cornhusker to win the Rimington. Dom won it in 2000, the first year it was awarded, and was then drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round.
Here’s where it gets VERY interesting. Dom has a great career and plays for the Lions for 14 seasons. In the middle of his run, 2008 the Lions go 0-16. Ugh, right? Except this provides the Lions with the first pick in the NFL Draft. Well, who is the #1 rated Quarterback plus the #1 rated PLAYER in the draft? How about University of Georgia QB Mathew Stafford? Detroit makes Stafford the #1 pick in the 2008 draft. Dominic Raiola becomes Stafford’s center for the next six seasons. Mathew becomes Dylan’s godfather.
Let’s keep digging. While at UGA Stafford’s Quarterback coach is one Mike Bobo, a former Georgia QB in his own right. Bobo helps develop Stafford into the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Eventually, Bobo departs Georgia for the head job at Colorado State from 2015-2019. After being let go by Colorado State Bobo spends time at South Carolina and Auburn as OC in 2021. But, it would seem Bobo was destined to return to UGA, why? Well, Mike Bobo and Kirby Smart were Dawg teammates between the hedges for four years, 1994-97. And in fact, when Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken moved on to the Baltimore Ravens earlier in 2023, Kirby Smart named Mike Bobo back to his old position as OC of Georgia.
So, you can see where this is going, right? Dylan starts playing football and eventually enrolls at Burleson, HS in the Dallas-Ft Worth area. Did I mention Mathew Stafford attended Highland Park high school in Dallas , Texas? Oh, BTW, Clayton Kershaw was a classmate, but, I digress. All Stafford did was take Highland Park to a 15-0 record and state championship. If you haven’t heard, that’s a big deal in Texas. So, not so surprising that Dylan Raiola ends up attending Bureleson High nearby, right? But, guess who is Dylan’s coach at Burleson? You’ll never get it, but by now you won’t be surprised. NFL QB Jon Kitna.
Jon Kitna and Dylan Raiola
We all remember Jon Kitna, right? He’s the QB that overcame all kinds of obstacles (a walk on at Central Washington state, undrafted free agent, Barcelona Dragons of the World League, and finally third string of the Seattle Seahawks) on his way to the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2003 for the Bengals, and then fast forward and Kitna is signed as a free agent in 2006 by… the Detroit Lions. Guess who the center is; yup, Dom Raiola. Kitna becomes the starter and in the 2006 season becomes the first Lions QB in history to take every snap in a single-season. He passed for 4,000 yds. Did it again in 2007 (18 TDs vs 20 INTs, but, that was back in the day). So why did the Lions take Mathew Stafford in the 2008 draft? Well, Kitna suffers a back injury in the 4th game and is out for the season. The Lions go 0-16. So, prior to the draft the Lions trade Kitna to the Dallas Cowboys and his story continues. Kitna misses playing with Matt Stafford, but eventually coaches Stafford’s godson: Dylan Raiola.
Georgia on his mind?
Now, there is a popular opinion (call it rumor) that once Dylan had decommitted from Ohio State that he really wanted Georgia. One has to think that “Uncle Mathew” as Dylan calls him might have a thing or two to say about UGA? Stafford and his wife remain close to the school. In fact, Stafford met his wife Kelly in Athens while he was playing at Georgia and she was cheerleading. The Staffords have committed $1.5 million to a recently developed social justice program launched by the UGA Athletic Association. They are also funding scholarships. I mean, they go back to campus. And, they also visit with their old coach, Mike Bobo. You know, Dylan’s new OC? How could Dylan NOT go to Georgia?
Maybe Dylan’s interest in UGA was complicated by The Dawgs very public recruitment of Arch Manning. You know Arch, the 2023 #1 + #1? You can see how the 2024 #1 + #1 might pause for that dust to settle? So not a huge surprise that shortly after Arch calls Sark and says “I’m on my way” to Austin, Dylan calls Kirby and says “it’s on!” I mean it all makes perfect sense if you know Mike coached Matt and Matt played with Dom and Dom played with Jon who coached Dylan in Dallas. Right?
The UGA depth chart
Oh, and Georgia’s QB depth chart? How about 4 star junior Carson Beck who appears to be the heir apparent to Stetson Bennett lV. Oh, did we forget to mention that Bennett was drafted by Stafford’s Rams in the 4th round and is currently listed as the backup to Uncle Mathew? Brock Vandagriff a 5 star who was rated #4 at QB in 2021, and Gunner Stockton who’s another 4 star from 2022. Dylan Raiola joins this stable of thoroughbreds as the 2nd highest rated UGA recruit ever. And the first? Well, how about one Justin Fields who never won the starting job, could not unseat Jake Fromm and transferred to Ohio State (and thrived). Matt Stafford? Well, he’s been pushed down by Justin, Dylan and Jacob Eason to #4 on the all-time QB recruit ratings for Georgia (via DAWGS247). In my view, Matt Stafford has one of the strongest arms to ever play the position. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out for his godson.
* We all know ratings for high school players are difficult at best. There are numerous services that rate HS players at every position. In this case the Quarterback Connection is taking input from both 247 Sports and Rivals.com. But, in the final analysis we are making our own judgement on the Quarterback and prospect ranking featured in this discussion.