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Evidence of a dynasty is mounting.
Long before Georgia won back-to-back national championships, there was a sense that something was being built in Athens. In the last two years, however, the Bulldogs have stepped up the conversation, knocking off rival Alabama fairly smoothly along the way.
On the heels of their second national title, a 65-7 bludgeoning of TCU that still doesn’t feel real, the word “dynasty” is attached to Kirby Smart’s team with more frequency and ease. Now, four months later, one can’t help but feel more strongly about the acquisitions with more consolidations on the horizon.
Dylan Raiola, the No. 1 quarterback and top overall player in the 2024 class, according to 247Sports, committed to Georgia on Monday. The 6’3″, 220-pound QB starred at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He chose the Bulldogs over USC, Nebraska and others.
“There’s a culture and a standard that I was attracted to,” Raiola told ESPN of his decision. “As more time passed, I felt stronger about Georgia and ultimately led to this decision.”
Dylan Raiola @RaiolaDylan
Athens, GA is Home!!! I’m a Dawg!! Go Dawgs📍🐶 pic.twitter.com/VWN9Vf55sy
While Raiola’s commitment to the defending national champions shouldn’t come as a surprise, the decision needs proper context. His father played for Nebraska, and the connection to the school and its recent reboot under Matt Rhule felt important.
As for USC, the appeal is obvious. The Trojans are closer to home, and Caleb Williams, who just won a Heisman, is likely to leave for the NFL after the upcoming season.
The potential matchup with head coach Lincoln Riley — combined with easy access to the starting QB vacancy in a system that’s not well thought out — has a lot to offer. This time, it wasn’t enough.
“The substance behind [Georgia’s] success is the biggest factor,” added Raiola. “Coach [Kirby] Smart has built this program to last, and I am excited and honored to be a part of it. Whether it’s in the classroom, on the field or in the weight room, I know I’m going to be pushed to be the best every day.”
Raiola is the latest 5-star talent to commit to Georgia since Smart arrived in 2016. After winning eight games in his debut season, the Bulldogs have found momentum on the recruiting trail and on the field.
Without the first part, the second cannot happen.
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The influx of talent from the start of Smart’s management has enabled this trend. And now, as Georgia moves on from QB Stetson Bennett and a slew of talented players who are now realizing their NFL dreams, Raiola’s arrival means more than just adding a talented player.
Like Alabama, Georgia has learned to navigate life as the best football program in the country. In addition to the now-regular annual exodus of talent, Todd Monken, the offensive architect of the past two titles, left the Bulldogs for the Baltimore Ravens this past offseason.
The fact that Raiola is comfortable with the system that Smart has created speaks volumes. Much has also been said about Smart’s decision to name Mike Bobo offensive coordinator.
Although Bobo has yet to call a game, his second stint with the program is off to a great start. While Raiola’s commitment is to Smart and the program as a whole, his comfort as an offensive coordinator will certainly play an important role.
In terms of positional competition, Raiola’s will likely face a lot of it. Carson Beck, Gunner Stockton and Brock Vandagriff were coveted high school prospects at one point, and they are currently on the Georgia roster.
All three are now vying for the starting QB job, though time will tell if Raiola’s decision changes the depth chart before he arrives.
If that sounds familiar, it should. It’s a blueprint Alabama helped create under Nick Saban. That’s the term, dynastyneeds.
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A loaded depth chart doesn’t stop players from coming to Athens; This creates a disturbance in participation. Competition breeds competition. Winning championships can have that effect.
It is, more than anything, about staying power. It’s about longevity. It’s about re-establishing the barometer of success and doing everything possible to repeat that success every year with different players and a reworked staff.
Doing so is easier said than done, no matter how normal Georgia looks of late. The only way to maintain this pipeline is constant, intensive recruitment.
At a time when Alabama is entering the transfer portal to potentially fill a glaring quarterback vacancy—a potential sign of mortality for a program that built its dynasty blueprint—The Georgia is gathering star power for the future.
It’s not about 2023 or even 2024; it’s about something out of reach.
On a day where no plays were played and no passes were thrown, Georgia won big. It added another 5-star player to a roster chock full of 5-star talent, and it went across the country to do so.
At a time when the offense is going through a major overhaul, the Bulldogs are getting a commitment from one of the most coveted players in the country. It’s easy to ignore this moment because of all the success Georgia has accumulated, but this moment feels important.
While it won’t help efforts to win a third consecutive national title this coming year, Raiola’s decision, in a way, makes more sense. It’s about the future and maintaining long-term dominance.
While Georgia doesn’t need to remind the rest of college football what it’s up against, look at the latest evidence that the Bulldogs aren’t going away anytime soon.