Ohio State secured a commitment from the top-rated player in the class of 2024 on Monday evening when Chandler, Ariz., five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola pledged his services to the Buckeyes during a ceremony at his church.
The significance of his commitment cannot be understated, as the 6-foot-3 and 225-pound Raiola – who just celebrated his 17th birthday and is only wrapping up his sophomore year of high school – is as physically mature and gifted as any signal-caller in the current recruiting cycle.
He immediately brings to mind Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes, who has the same ability to extend plays with their legs and make something happen on the ground but would much rather throw it all over the field.
That's one reason why Ohio State hasn't been as focused on finding a quarterback for the class of 2023 as you would expect, especially with starter C.J. Stroud almost assuredly off to the NFL after this season and sophomore Kyle McCord and freshman Devin Brown as the only other scholarship signal-callers on the roster.
Perhaps the Buckeyes will forgo taking a quarterback this cycle and add one through the transfer portal next offseason for depth purposes instead. Raiola could also explore reclassifying and joining the program a year earlier than anticipated, though that ultimately depends on how his academics line up and if he even has the desire to make such a move.
Those are certainly conversations head coach Ryan Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis will have with him and his family as the process unfolds.
Speaking of his family, sports run in Raiola's blood. His grandfather, Tony Raiola, played defensive line at Miami (Fla.), while his father, Dominic Raiola, was an All-American center and Rimington Award winner at Nebraska before enjoying a 14-year NFL career with the Detroit Lions.
His uncle, Donovan Raiola, played collegiately at Wisconsin before spending six years at the next level. He's currently the offensive line coach for the Cornhuskers, who were widely viewed as the biggest threat in Dylan's recruitment.
Raiola's mom, Yvonne Raiola, played water polo at Hawai'i, while his older sister, Taylor Raiola, plays volleyball at TCU. His younger brother, Dayton Raiola, appears to be next in line as a left-handed quarterback and baseball star, as well.
If football wasn't in the cards, Dylan would likely be on his way to a career in the Major Leagues. He's a talented catcher with arm strength that rivals the Pop Time of MLB catchers, which is the time elapsed from the moment a pitch his the mitt to the moment it reaches its intended target on a steal or pickoff attempt.
That rocket of an arm is most apparent on Friday nights, though, when Raiola regularly slings the ball 75 yards in the air. That made it easy for him to throw for 3,341 yards and 42 touchdowns – compared to just five interceptions – at Burleson, Texas, last season. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him top those number this fall and secure his spot as the top player in the country.
"(Raiola) could top the rankings next year with a monster season at Chandler, where his strong arm and plus athleticism will shine," SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia said. "He's also shined on the ground with natural instincts with the ball in his hands, adding nine more scores while on the move."
When he arrives in Columbus, Raiola – who is Hawaiian – will become the latest in a recent line of Polynesian players to suit up for the Buckeyes, joining former defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, fifth-year senior linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, redshirt junior offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi and sophomore defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau.
They'll likely exhaust their eligibility or head to the NFL by the time the 2024 season rolls around, but Raiola will still be able to lean on them for advice, much like he has with Los Angeles Rams and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Matthew Stafford, who played with his father in Detroit, when it comes to playing the quarterback position.
Stafford's tutelage is a ringing endorsement for Raiola, who will now look to bring some of the nation's best players with him to Columbus, regardless of class. After all, what better way to attract wide receivers like 2023 five-stars Brandon Inniss and Carnell Tate or 2024 five-stars Jeremiah Smith and Joshisa Trader than to land a quarterback of his caliber?
Ohio State has actually been targeting two quarterbacks in the next recruiting cycle. But with Raiola now in the fold, it will be extremely difficult for the Buckeyes to pair him with another elite player – such as Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day School five-star Jadyn Davis, though there's no denying his interest in the program. He'll have to make his own decision soon, which will certainly dictate where Day and Dennis go from here.
It's not a bad problem to have, especially with the pull Raiola will have with other national recruits in the class of 2024, including Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco five-star safety Peyton Woodyard, who was just on campus for an unofficial visit last month, and Buford, Ga., five-star athlete Khalil "K.J." Bolden, who took note of his pledge on social media.
Be sure to check out our new message boards, Buckeye Forums. We'd love to have you part of the conversation during the season.
You may also like:
Be sure to stay locked into BuckeyesNow all the time!