Monday, May 20, 2024
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Dylan Raiola dazzles in Nebraska spring game, but QB competition destined to continue into offseason

Nebraska is heading into the 2024 season with some significant intrigue. The Cornhuskers are not only in Year 2 of the Matt Rhule era, but carrying one of their biggest recruiting wins in recent memory on the roster with five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola. 

Raiola is the son of a former Nebraska All-American Dominic Raiola and the nephew of current offensive line coach Donovan Raiola. His arrival in Lincoln did not come as a shock based on the school ties, but the fact that Nebraska won a recruiting battle that, at times, included commitments to both Ohio State and Georgia drew attention from across the college football landscape. This is one of the top quarterbacks in the class, and with his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, there’s not a lot of “need to develop” associated with his projections. If Raiola can competently run the offense, he’ll have a chance to start, and since the Cornhuskers haven’t had a player of his caliber at the quarterback position in a bit, there is going to be a lot of excitement about what he can accomplish, even as a true freshman in 2024. 

Raiola did nothing to quiet the buzz about his potential in Nebraska’s spring game, throwing for 239 yards and two touchdowns on 16 of 22 passing with several highlight-worthy plays. 

First came a 64-yard dime to Jaylen Lloyd, the leading receiver for the day, to put the Red team up 14-7 in the second quarter. 

The good news for Nebraska is that while the buzz around Raiola, with his five-star profile and All-American pedigree, was significant, it was not as though his claim to QB1 was pre-determined. Heinrich Haarberg, the only returning quarterback with starting experience from last season, showed out as well with with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. 

Rhule should feel much better about his quarterback situation heading into 2024. The position was a liability last season, and at times, the reason why the Cornhuskers were coming up short in close games. Haarberg without turnovers can be a capable option with experience, while Raiola offers a much higher upside in addition to being the player for the future. 

There is always a bit of caution when reacting to spring game stats and performances, particularly since we know coaches sometimes “script” the results to help push the right buttons for their team, but even in a scripted outcome it’s clear that both Raiola and Haarberg had a good day. That’s a big boost for Nebraska heading into the summer, and a good sign as the Huskers claim their spot in an expanded Big Ten that will welcome four competitive programs this summer. 

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