Clemson continues to keep tabs on quarterbacks in the 2024 class.
One of the best sophomore gunslingers in the nation is the son of a former NFL player. His last name might sound a bit familiar, too.
The Clemson Insider checked in with Burleson (Texas) four-star quarterback Dylan Raiola, the son of former Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, who played 14 years in the NFL.
“I’ve been in touch with Coach (Brandon) Streeter, the quarterbacks coach down there,” Raiola told TCI. “Love him, great guy. Love the program at Clemson. Coach Swinney’s doing awesome things down there and just the culture that he’s built down there and established is like no other school. So, I’m just excited to keep building that relationship with everybody down there.”
The two are already formulating a strong connection.
“I think we have a great feel for each other,” Raiola said. “We’re still building our relationship and I have a feeling it’s gonna be like that for the whole recruiting process. Every time I talk to him, we learn something new about each other, which is awesome. I’m glad I can talk to such an awesome guy like him.”
Raiola can’t answer at the moment whether he’ll be able to make it up to Death Valley for a game this season.
“If I get a free weekend, I will for sure try and get down to Clemson,” he said.
Raiola has been able to take a few gameday visits.
He was in attendance for Clemson’s season-opening matchup against Georgia in Charlotte. Raiola was there as a guest of Georgia, but leading up to the game, he talked with Streeter during the week.
“Before I got in contact with Coach Streeter, I got tickets to the game,” Raiola said. “I was just super excited to watch both teams play. It was crazy. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I took the full opportunity. I got there early, I got to see Coach Swinney — not talk to him, but I got to see him from the stands walking the field — and their whole pregame routine. I just loved how they do everything in sync and it’s organized.”
Raiola doesn’t take it lightly that he’s being recruited by a program like Clemson.
“That means a lot,” he said. “I think the part that means the most to me is just the people that surround that building and the people that make that program, which makes it a special program and all of that just translates to football. It’s an awesome school. Their culture is obviously established and you can see that while watching them play.”
He also doesn’t take it lightly that he gets to learn from two NFL veterans every day, his father and longtime Lions and Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Jon Kitna, who is his head coach at Burleson.
“It’s awesome. I’m very fortunate,” Raiola said. “I get to every single day, come in and just learn from Coach Kitna and just see what Coach Kitna’s doing in kid’s lives on the football team. A lot of people would pay to be trained by a guy like him. I love to take advantage of it because I get it for free. He’s just a great guy.
“Shoot, my dad being in the house with me is awesome. My dad coaches the offensive line at my high school. So, me and my dad, we’re constantly talking football. We just love the game.”
What’s the most important thing that Raiola has learned about being a quarterback from Kitna?
“Something that stands out is that you can use your eyes as a weapon,” he said. “Your body language controls a lot of how you play. Just the tempo you practice at will translate to the game. So, Coach Kitna, what he does at practice is he makes it over-speed, so when we get to the game, everything slows down for us and we can see things clearly. I think that’s a huge benefit with his experience and his knowledge on that.”
And from his father?
“My dad’s always taught me to work in silence,” Raiola added. “I’m gonna keep working in silence, let my play do the talking. I don’t like to talk about myself, that’s just not the type of person I am. That’s what my dad has taught me.”
Growing up in an NFL locker room sure has its benefits. There are not many other high schoolers around the country, who can say that they have relationships with both Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
But that’s Raiola. And, he’s certainly humble about it.
“I was actually old enough to be around my dad when he was playing,” he said. “Just to be in the locker room with all those NFL guys, to mention a few, my dad was super close with Stafford and Stafford was awesome with me and my brother. Calvin Johnson was another guy. Those guys have just had a big impact on my life because we stay in touch with them a little bit now. We actually got to make the trip to Calvin’s Hall of Fame speech and induction. That was super special.”
Circling back to his recruitment, in addition to Clemson, Raiola mentioned Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State, West Virginia, Georgia and all the programs that have offered him, as the schools currently standing out in his recruitment.
Raiola is a pro-style quarterback and he tries to predicate his game as such. There’s a certain NFL MVP that he tries to emulate in his play.
“I humbly say this, but I consider myself sort of like Patrick Mahomes,” he said. “I know I can make all the off-platform throws. I’m accurate. Really just a great teammate and a great leader, which comes first and that just trickles down to everything football-wise. Patrick Mahomes, I look up to him. I watch him every Sunday and just learn from watching him every week.”
Raiola ranks as the No. 3 quarterback and No. 45 overall prospect nationally in the 2024 class, per 247Sports.