If there were any lingering doubts about Georgia‘s ability to attract a top-ranked quarterback, coach Kirby Smart addressed them on Monday when the Bulldogs landed a commitment from Dylan Raiola, the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2024 ESPN 300.
Raiola, from Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona, is the highest-ranked quarterback to choose the Bulldogs since current Chicago Bears starter Justin Fields signed with them in October 2017. Fields played one season at Georgia before transferring to Ohio State. Coincidentally, Raiola had committed to Ohio State in May 2022 but decommitted in December.
Georgia, which has won each of the last two College Football Playoff national championships, will have to replace starting quarterback Stetson Bennett this coming season.
Georgia was able to land Raiola even after offensive coordinator Todd Monken left for the same position with the Baltimore Ravens.
How did Georgia land the top-rated recruit in the 2024 class? How good is Raiola? And what’s next for the Bulldogs on the recruiting trail? Our reporters break down the impact of his commitment.
How Georgia landed Raiola
The state of Georgia’s QB room
How good is Raiola? | When will he play?
What’s next for Georgia on the recruiting trail?
What’s next for the teams that missed out?
How did Georgia win the Raiola sweepstakes?
Georgia was in the conversation from the start and never really left. Even when he committed to Ohio State, the success that the Dawgs have had over the past few seasons under Kirby Smart — seven straight top-three recruiting classes and back-to-back national championships — still made an impression on Raiola.
He told me that he learned a lot from his first recruitment and first commitment, and used that this time around to help guide him. Raiola said he didn’t feel rushed or pressured to commit and was able to have the right conversations with his family. He feels as though the culture that has been established at Georgia is one of the main factors that led to his commitment to Georgia, and it doesn’t hurt that Raiola is close with former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford through his father Dominic’s playing days with the Detroit Lions.
Stafford was coached by current Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who will now coach Raiola, as well. — Tom VanHaaren
What does Georgia’s future quarterback room look like?
It certainly looks much deeper than a few years ago, when the Bulldogs were down to former walk-on Stetson Bennett and USC transfer JT Daniels, after Justin Fields transferred to Ohio State.
The Bulldogs feel that they have two quarterbacks who are capable of starting this coming season: junior Carson Beck and redshirt sophomore Brock Vandagriff. Redshirt freshman Gunner Stockton was one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Georgia high school history.
Beck probably had the edge in the race to replace Bennett coming out of spring practice. He played in seven games last season, completing 26 of 35 passes for 310 yards with four touchdowns. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, Beck has prototypical size for an FBS quarterback. He probably has the strongest arm of Georgia’s quarterbacks.
Vandagriff, who played at Prince Avenue Christian High School outside Athens, was a more heralded prospect than Beck. He was originally committed to play for Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma. He played in three games last season. Vandagriff has improved in his understanding of the offense and is a very mobile quarterback.
Stockton, who played at Rabun County High School in Tiger, Georgia, set state records with 13,652 passing yards, 177 passing touchdowns and 77 rushing scores. — Mark Schlabach
How good is Raiola?
Raiola is among the top five overall prospects regardless of their recruiting class, which is a strong indicator that Georgia has added one of the most talented prospects currently in all of high school football. The first thing that jumps out is the five-star’s size, as he possesses good height with a sturdy build at roughly 6-foot-3, 228 pounds, and with that comes the arm strength you would expect.
Raiola can drive the ball downfield and make all the necessary throws. He can continue to improve consistency, but has displayed good accuracy, completing around 65% of his passes each of the last two seasons. He fits more in the mold of a pocket-passer but is a functional athlete that can create second chances.
The top ranked player in the 2024 class also has shown a competitive, steady poise in his approach and play. In addition to excellent physical tools, he comes with a strong connection to the game. Those connections start with his father, who is former Nebraska All-American OL and 14-year NFL alum Dominic Raiola and include former NFL QB Jon Kitna, who was his high school coach at Burleson High School (Texas) as a sophomore.
His blend of physical tools, intangibles and his football acumen make him one of the more elite and college-ready QBs to come out in the ESPN 300 era. — Craig Haubert
When can we expect Raiola to play at the next level?
There are a lot of pro style elements to Georgia’s offense that we think Raiola will fit into very nicely. From a physical standpoint, he’s built like Jake Fromm, and I compare Raiola’s arm talent to Justin Fields. His mobility and movement outside the pocket are similar to Aaron Murray.
Raiola has been a very polished player since his freshman year in high school. He’s one of the better ball handlers and pocket navigators in the 2024 class.
He can make all of the necessary throws and at times make some of them look effortless. It’s all the more impressive that he doesn’t play in a dink-and-dunk spread offense where the scheme is dumbed down, allowing him to complete high-percentage underneath throws. Raiola has a strong play-action game, which requires him to make difficult throws at intermediate and deep levels of the field.
His early impact ability depends on if anyone currently on Georgia’s roster emerges. If the Bulldogs’ new offense struggles and they have to use multiple quarterbacks, he could find himself in a position to be expected to play right away. It also wouldn’t be too surprising if one of the current quarterbacks who loses out on the starting job enters the portal. — Tom Luginbill
Where does Georgia go from here on the recruiting trail?
Georgia didn’t land a quarterback in the 2023 cycle and the staff didn’t take a transfer, either, so Raiola will shore up the future depth of the offense.
Once Raiola arrives on campus, Beck will be entering his senior season, Vandagriff will be a junior and Stockton a redshirt sophomore. None of those three have fully emerged as the clear leader for Georgia’s offense, so adding Raiola only adds more competition and depth. He won’t have pressure to start right away, but he’ll have every opportunity to compete for playing time in 2024.
From a recruiting perspective, it’s only natural that a talented, highly visible quarterback would attract other skill positions, especially at receiver and running back. This commitment could end up being a big recruiting tool for Georgia and possibly help the Bulldogs land five-star receiver Mike Matthews or other recruits still considering Georgia. Raiola has a likable personality and has met recruits at a variety of events he has gone to, so this is only a positive for the Dawgs. — VanHaaren
What’s next for the teams that missed out on Raiola?
USC and Nebraska were the main contenders for Raiola. The Trojans signed five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson, the No. 1 recruit overall in the 2023 class who will likely sit behind Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams this fall.
Lincoln Riley doesn’t have a quarterback committed in the 2024 cycle, but he followed a blueprint at Oklahoma of signing quarterbacks at every other class and has found a ton of success doing it.
Raiola’s talent and ability made it a no-brainer to try to recruit him, but if Riley doesn’t believe there’s another top-end quarterback that would compete with Nelson, he doesn’t have to sign one for 2024.
Nebraska was able to add Georgia Tech quarterback transfer Jeff Sims this past offseason, but lost last season’s starter, Casey Thompson, to transfer. The new staff did not sign a high school quarterback in the 2023 class, but did add transfer Chubba Purdy in the 2022 cycle. With mainly transfers on the roster at the position, it will be important for Matt Rhule and his staff to continue developing quarterbacks from the high school ranks.
He very well could continue to land transfer quarterbacks, but at some point, adding a high school quarterback will be necessary.
Ohio State also missed out, considering that Raiola was originally committed to the Buckeyes and decommitted back in December. The Buckeyes were quick to add another quarterback to the class, though, and got a commitment from Air Noland.
He’s the No. 47 prospect overall and the No. 4 pocket-passing quarterback in the class. He’s a 6-foot-3, 195-pound signal caller from Fairburn, Georgia, and gives Ohio State an excellent quarterback option for the future. — VanHaaren