Louisiana Tech v Nebraska
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Nebraska never gave up on recruiting Dylan Raiola, the top quarterback in the Class of 2024. But Cornhuskers coach Matt Rhule admitted that he wasn't anticipating the news he received a few days ago from the star prospect, who flipped his commitment from Georgia to Nebraska before officially signing with the Cornhuskers on Wednesday.

"It was really not something that I expected," Rhule said Wednesday in an interview with Josh Pate on the 247Sports YouTube channel. "I got a call last weekend that, 'Hey coach, I think I want to come be a Husker.'"

The flip by Raiola from Georgia to Nebraska helped make the Cornhuskers one of the big winners from the early signing period. Nebraska struggled to find consistent quarterback play in 2023 during a 5-7 campaign in which three different players battled ineffectively to hold down the position.

Raiola is talented enough to potentially start from Day 1 for Nebraska, which would likely have been implausible for him at Georgia amid the news that starter Carson Beck is returning for another season. 

"The recruiting process for him, to me, I think is a little different," Rhule said of Raiola. "I think that probably his heart always was here at Nebraska. A lot of things have happened at Nebraska in recent years. He just kind of went through the course of this year, saw the progress that we made, saw the way that we did things. In the end, he wanted to come visit and wanted to be one of us."

As the son of former Nebraska star offensive lineman Dominic Raiola and nephew of Nebraska offensive line coach Donovan Raiola, Dylan has deep ties to the Cornhuskers. Legacy connections were a common theme in Nebraska's first full signing class under Rhule.

"I really believe that young people nowadays, most of them anyway, they play for people," Rhule said. "They play for people they believe in. So for me, this is always about relationships. If you look at our signing class, there's six former player's sons, six legacy players, coming to play for us. For me, this is always about relationships."

Though four straight losses to end the regular season left Nebraska one victory short of bowl eligibility, Rhule is no stranger to slow starts. His first team at Temple went 2-10 in 2013 and his first team at Baylor went 1-11 in 2017. He quickly built both programs into winners, and the signing of Raiola offers a glimmer of hope that a similar turnaround could be coming at Nebraska.

"I think if there's one thing we've done, whether it's Temple, Baylor or here is the young people that come and play for us, whether it's on the field or off, they have a lot of success," Rhule said.