The Top247’s No. 1 recruit in the 2024 class in Chandler (Ariz.) High five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola celebrated his 17th birthday Monday evening by going public with his plans to play college football at Ohio State. Raiola chooses to suit up for Ryan Day and his staff over his other finalists in Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Texas and USC.
Raiola actually told Day and quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis he was in the fold during a visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ spring game, but this had been brewing long before that.
“What the culture is, I felt it immediately when I walked in the building for the Penn State game (during the fall),” Raiola told 247Sports. The spring game was actually his second time at OSU in April. “Going back up there and seeing things, hearing what former players of Ohio State say about the program, gathering information, all the dots connected. It felt like home and I’m ready to be a Buckeye.
“Start with the head man Coach Day. I think what he does with quarterbacks is special. The way he molds a young man going into this world I think that’s a huge factor. Just the personal relationship I have with them and built with them, he’s very personable and you can ask them any question, you can go to him whenever you want.His office is next to the locker room and he says he has an open-door policy and that means a lot.
“Coach Dennis is awesome. He coaches great quarterbacks and he knows what he’s doing. The family feel I have with both coaches it just felt right.”
Raiola is the first to commit to Ohio State in the 2024 class. The return for the spring game was so he could tell Day and Dennis in person that he was in.
“We got the itinerary and I saw I had a meeting with Coach Day that Saturday at noon,” Raiola said. “I couldn’t sleep on the plane. We had a red eye. When we got there, we went out to a practice, I went and got my haircut and we had a meeting with Coach Day. I told him thank you for having us back and I’m ready to be a Buckeye. He reacted with a loud scream of ‘let’s go!’ He’s super excited for me and my family.”
Raiola played his first two seasons of high school football at Burleson (Texas) High where the family was also able to be closer to his older sister who played volleyball at TCU. He threw for 3,341 yards and 32 touchdowns with another nine rushing scores as a sophomore.
Raiola’s father Dominic played 14 seasons on the offensive line for the Detroit Lions after an All-American career at Nebraska (Rimington Award winner given to the nation’s top center and his number is retired in Lincoln). One of his teammates in the NFL was quarterback Jon Kitna who is now the head coach at Burleson.
Kitna played 17 years at the highest level before going into coaching and says Raiola is on that trajectory.
“There’s not a throw he can’t make.” Kitna said. “He understands coverages and where the weak spots are in every coverage. He knows protection. He knows how to set the run game to the right spot. He’s going to be a 4.6 kid at the end of it and be someone that can hurt you running with his legs. Just an incredible deep ball thrower. That’s one of the things that really separates him. He can do it from a phone booth and get the ball up in the air quickly. His improvisation skills are something as a coach you can’t teach that. He can improvise like crazy and make plays.
“One thing I tell coaches, what you don’t see is better than what you do see. He loves football, loves learning, he’s a gym rat, he’s constantly working on his craft. He’s studying the game both from an offensive and defensive perspective. Those are the things in my opinion that set him apart. You meet a lot of people that can throw a football but the things you can’t necessarily measure are really special with him.”
The Raiola family made rounds to the other prominent schools that were in the mix during the process and Dylan’s father felt Ohio State was a special place as well.
“When we started taking trips this year we weren’t taking them to go see facilities, we were trying to meet people, get to know the meat and potatoes of these programs,” Dominic said. “Everybody has been great but Ohio State stood out head and shoulders above everybody in that building. How the building was run, we talk about culture and the culture at Ohio State is real. From the nutritionist to the academic people, we met the Dean of the Business School, there are so many people other than Coach Dennis and Coach Day. Coach (Mickey) Marotti, when you build your whole building around the weight room, that’s the central place, to me that’s the place that teaches you about yourself, teaches you about toughness, that’s where you stay healthy and you need to invest in. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a place built around the weight room. Mickey Marotti, I think he’s the best in the business and we did our homework.
“So many people gushed and lauded about Coach Day and that program.”