‘Not a throw he can’t make:’ Armed with great bloodlines and even better tools, Dylan Raiola has ‘the next’


When you’ve been the son of an NFL offensive lineman for 14 years, you can get tricked into becoming a future road leveler yourself.

It appears that, Dylan Raiola didn’t like it.

In young Raiola’s mind, he was a quarterback similar to his father’s former teammate, Matthew Stafford. For a very long time no one else saw him that way and assumed he was just Dominic Raiola, 2.0. With each season that passed from his youthful days, having already recorded many snaps on the defensive front and offensive line, and more to come at linebacker and short end, Dylan lost his desire to play. He wanted so badly to have an opportunity at quarterback and to have everything that comes with playing that position. It was so frustrating that Dylan was done putting the pads on.

“I’m like a guy, I’m not going to get shot,” Raiola said.

Reading this article now, you know that the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Raiola finally got a shot and quickly evolved into a very good quarterback – the one who 247Sports is the No. 1 player in the expanded Top247 rankings. for the class of 2024. A five-star recruit from 247Sports Composite, such as Ryan Day of Ohio State, Lincoln Riley of USC, Kirby Smart of Georgia, Nick Saban of Alabama and Steve Sarkisian of Texas are all d agreement, having offered a scholarship to Chandler (Arizona). Premium product.

Athletes with old-school principles, Raiola’s parents (Dominic and Yvonne) aren’t the type to come down from the bleachers to the touchline and tell the coach where their son should line up. They didn’t do it for their eldest daughter, who is now an outside hitter for the TCU volleyball team, they obviously didn’t do it for Dylan and they didn’t – and they didn’t. won’t – for younger brother Dayton, who will be in high school next year.

“You play where you’re needed, you’re a team player,” Yvonne said.

She swam and played water polo at the University of Hawaii (the family joke is that the arm talent comes from her side). Dominic is also from Hawaii but took his talents to Nebraska, where his jersey is retired after winning two-time All-American honors and winning the Rimington Trophy as the top center in college football. The Lions drafted him in the second round of the 2001 draft and he spent his entire career at Motor City.

“Your child is going to play where the coach asks you to play,” Yvonne continued. “That’s how they were raised and taught – to go where the coach tells you. People would say he’s going to be a lineman like his dad. He’s got a strong, wide build, Dylan has always been thrown on the line, offensive or defensive Dylan grew up and he came to us and said he wasn’t going to play football.

Nobody really wanted that.

Luckily one of Dominic’s former teammates, Jon Kitna, lived in the area. At the time of Dylan’s crossroads, Kitna was coaching high school football at Phoenix (Arizona) Brophy Prep and spent an afternoon at the Raiola house.

“Dylan said, ‘Uncle Jon, I want to be a quarterback,'” Kitna recalled. “I said let’s take a look and we started pitching, working together.”

Kitna saw a natural.

“He was like, ‘You can throw the ball, stay at quarterback, don’t let anybody tell you you’re not going to be a quarterback,'” Dylan said. “I stuck with it, did all the exercises he told me to do.”

“He already had a lot of great mechanics in place and knew how to spin a football,” Kitna added.

Shortly after, Kitna took a job as a quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys and between tutors like Dak Prescott, he shadowed the eighth-year Raiola, who was sending videos via workout texts to the looking for reviews.

“I just work in the yard on my own,” Kitna said. “It’s a grinder.”

Raiola’s parents weren’t sure what they had.

“I knew he had a good arm,” Dominic said. “He played baseball and was one of the best defensive receivers in the country – I knew that. I knew he was really good at catching and creative with his arm angles to kick guys out.

“Finally, we said if you’re going to be a quarterback, let’s start doing everything that quarterbacks do: quarterback practice, a three-pocket net…you have to nurture that. That was pretty cool to watch.

The Raiola family foundation is built on faith and some stars really aligned as Dylan entered ninth grade. His sister Taylor was to start her volleyball career at TCU. Thirty minutes from Fort Worth, Kitna took the head coaching job at Burleson (Texas) High. The Raiolas decided to take the step to get closer to their daughter and see if Dylan could shine as a passer under Kitna.

“God’s plan,” Dylan said.

“For me, it wasn’t necessarily something I did other than open the cage and let the lion out,” Kitna said.

The lion roars rapidly.

“Jon was telling us he’s good, he’s a quarterback, but you know we didn’t know that,” Yvonne said. “I’ll never forget Dylan’s first game in high school, his first year playing JV (Kitna’s son Jalen, who is now in Florida, was the college starter) and before Dominic and I were literally in the car praying, saying we don’t know what it’s gonna be like.

“We didn’t know how he was going to handle the pressure, lead the offense, he had never played in that position before and now you’re in the world of Texas football and he totally thrived. He was totally in his element. He looked so natural there and so poised and thrived and we were like wow, he really is a quarterback. He was so poised and we’re freaking out in the stands.

We also liked the JV movie from 247Sports. Last August, we named Raiola the No. 3 quarterback in the nation and No. 44 prospect overall in the initial Top 100 in the class. Now with a college season under his belt, Raiola climbs the ranks to No. 1 in our first update since those early rankings plummeted after throwing for 3,341 yards and 32 touchdowns with nine other rushing scores.

“Some of the things he shares with guys like Quinn Ewers and Patrick Mahomes and other really high-end quarterbacks I’ve seen over the last decade are the ability to improvise and change the angle of the arms said Gabe Brooks, 247Sports national analyst and Lone Star State native. “Throwing with or through his body with relative ease. The snap and pop with the ball coming out with juice, he looks home in any situation and if he’s on the move full range he can make the throw. It might sound simple, but there really aren’t many guys, especially at this size, who can do that.

Kitna played 17 years at the top level before becoming a coach and says Raiola is on that trajectory.

“There’s not a throw he can’t make.” Kitna said. “He understands the covers and where the weak spots are in each cover. He knows protection. He knows how to put the racing game in the right place. He’s going to be a 4.6 kid by the end and be someone who can hurt you running around with his legs. Just an amazing deep ball launcher. It’s one of the things that really separates it. He can do this from a phone booth and get the balloon off the ground quickly. His improvisation skills are something as a coach you can’t teach. He can improvise like crazy and play games.

“One thing I tell coaches, what you don’t see is better than what you see. He loves football, loves to learn, he is a gym rat, he is constantly working on his craft. He studies the game from an offensive and defensive point of view. Those are the things in my opinion that set it apart. You meet a lot of people who can throw a soccer ball, but the things you can’t necessarily measure are really special with him.

Raiola has always been wired a bit differently. Dominic remembers Dylan watching an entire World Series game as a toddler, cheering on Justin Verlander and the Tigers. During Detroit Red Wings games, Raiola loved watching neighbor goaltender Chris Osgood play in net, but also refused to leave his seat between periods hypnotized because he was totally hypnotized by the Zamboni machine.

On the occasions when Dylan and Dayton attended Lions practices, it was epic. Matthew Stafford was there. Calvin Johnson too. Matt Prater, who has the most field goals 50-plus yards in NFL history, gave Dylan advice on hitting the ball through the uprights.

Longtime NFL quarterback and family friend Drew Stanton remembers Raiola in diapers. Since the family moved back to Arizona two months ago to be closer to grandparents on both sides, Stanton has worked with Raiola several times.

“His ability and awareness of his body at such a young age is so impressive,” Stanton said. Raiola is his only student.

“It’s hard for me as a dad to really understand that he’s special, but you see it every day, you only realize it when other people tell you,” Dominic said. “We try to operate with a lot of humility. I see a guy who is a work in progress. He is constantly looking for things to work on. We communicate with Drew Stanton twice a week and he is always working.

On college visits, which include recent stops at Georgia, Clemson, USC, Ohio State and Nebraska next weekend, Raiola has impressed coaches with his maturity and ability to talk about football at a high level.

Raiola likes to be in these rooms sitting next to Day or Riley and choosing their brains. He did the same with CJ Stroud in Columbus. He always talks about football with guys like Dan Orlovsky, who tells him to keep working and never settle down.

“It’s very humiliating,” Raiola said. “I’m obviously very excited about all the work that’s come from the first year until now. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot to show and I know I still have a lot in my tank. Keeping that in perspective, I always want to be #1 teammate, #1 son, #1 brother, I want to behave like I’m #1 in everything I do in a very humble and positive. way. I owe a lot to my mother and my father who accompanied me every step of the way. I know they won’t let me settle down.

Self-taught, Dylan even cuts the hair of his family and teammates.

“He’s a good boy,” Dominic said. “We are proud of the person he is. We are proud of the brother he is, the son he is, the teammate he is. Faith is a big part of who he is. He got baptized last year during the season and we’re proud of that choice he made and it’s a journey he’s on and proud of the relationship he has with Jesus.

“No one will remember those stars and ratings,” Yvonne said. “People will always remember how you treat them.”

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