Georgia football QB commitment Dylan Raiola right at home already at powerhouse Buford

BUFORD — The quarterback wearing jersey No. 15 appears to be fitting in already with his new team after a move more than 1,800 miles away.
Dylan Raiola shouts out to a lineman Monday afternoon heading to a lower field to ask about who his school counselor is for the upcoming school year. He later exchanges handshakes with one teammate and chest bumps another.
The nation’s No. 1 overall prospect committed to back-to-back national champion Georgia football on May 15 and six weeks later announced a transfer to play his senior season down the road at powerhouse Buford High.
“He’s come in and really picked stuff up,” Buford offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Gus Condon said. “He’s very intentional about how he approaches his business. He’s a pro. He’s very engaged not only on grass but in the meeting room.”
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Raiola’s not jumping to the front of the line just yet. On the first day of a five-day acclimation period, the 6-foot-2 1/2, 220-pound Raiola isn’t even the first quarterback to go in a drill, but his talent is apparent.
“He’s nasty,” said KJ Bolden, a wide receiver and five-star safety who is a Georgia recruiting target. “He does some things some quarterbacks just don’t do. He kind of reminds me of Patrick Mahomes.”
No pressure. That’s just the NFL MVP from last season.
“He’s the best guy out there,” Bolden said referring to the 2024 QB class.
On this day, Raiola is wearing a t-shirt with a Georgia ‘G” on it before a weightlifting session. Later, he hits the artificial turf field on a sunny day with the temperature at 89 degrees but feeling even hotter.
Georgia fans who recognize him may stop to greet him while he’s around town, but he doesn’t mind.
He remembers being a fan of a former Alabama quarterback now with the Dolphins.
“I’ll never forget where I came from,” Raiola said. “I was once that kid. I grew up watching Tua Tagovailoa … I remember those days when I’d go and watch his high school games and try to get his attention and meet him. Just never losing that humility. I get stopped, but I do it with a smile on my face and do it in a positive way.”
Dylan’s father, former Detroit Lions center Dominic Raiola, played at Saint Louis High School in Honolulu, Hawaii like Tagovailoa.
Dylan is used to making moves, having transferred from Burleson High in Texas to Chandler High in Arizona to Pinnacle High in Phoenix.
He transferred to Buford rather than sit out five games of his senior season due to transfer eligibility rules in Arizona.
“Rumors were flying for a while that he’d possibly be looking to come to the state,” said Buford coach Bryant Appling, entering his fifth season. “I told him, his mom and his brother, that we compete. No matter who’s here, we’re going to drive this train kinda the same way we always will.”
Raiola is nearing a month since moving to Georgia.
He met with coaches. Studied the offense on his own. And huddled with his brother, Dayton, a sophomore quarterback at Buford who also transferred, about the playbook for an offense that has a lot of verbiage, formations, and motion. They test each other.
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Buford quarterbacks in recent years have gone on to Stanford (Ashton Daniels) and Virginia Tech (Dylan Wittke).
“It’s a proven system that’s successful,” Raiola said. “It’s a pro system that fits me very well. That’s something you run at the next level.”
Condon said Raiola has a “really high IQ. He understands protections. He understands things in the run game. …He’s starving for information. He wants to know, wants to know, wants to know.”
Dylan said Dayton didn’t want to be far from him when Dylan went to college so that made transferring to Buford attractive.
“Prayed about it and God kind of opened this door for us,” he said. “It wasn’t just Buford. There were a couple of other schools in the area but with me going to Georgia, it’s really a home run. I’m just glad we moved to the state of Georgia.
The drive from Buford to Athens is less than 50 miles, so he will have a chance to make his share of visits in the months ahead.
Raiola plans to be in Athens this weekend as Georgia hosts recruits, but he also wants to take in the months ahead before he joins the Bulldogs as an early enrollee.
“I try to be up there whenever I can, but also trying to be at home with my family,” he said. “I’m going to be out of the house in about five months. Just cherishing every moment with my family. Even though they’ll be an hour away, it’s still going to be a little different with me out of the house.”
Buford boasts 14 GHSA state championships and won three in a row before being upset in the second round last season. Raiola figures to make the Wolves even more formidable.
Appling already calls him “a really good teammate,” and someone that is encouraging players on both sides of the ball.
“He definitely impacts the people around him,” Condon said. “He’s about the right stuff.”
Buford is ranked No. 7 nationally by High School Football America and opens the season Aug. 18 against another national power, No. 3 St. Frances Academy from Maryland. Buford is the No. 1 ranked public school.
“It’s been a blessing the way they’ve embraced my brother and I,” Raiola said. “The coaches, as well as the whole team. It was special. I felt welcomed by everybody. You go out to the community; you feel welcomed by the community. It’s such a great feeling knowing how historic Buford is and what they’ve been able to do in the past and for them to just welcome my family, it means a lot to me.”
Condon says Raiola has the “big arm,” but that he throws a ball that is “wide receiver friendly,” and gets through his progressions quickly.
“It’s not perfect right at this point in our offense, but there’s flashes of some stuff that’s really dynamic,” he said.
Raiola wants to grow more as a leader in his final high school season and even with his No. 1 national ranking sees area to grow.
“A lot of people say I’m not mobile,” he said. “Well, I’ve had a couple of injuries I’ve played through that people don’t know about, which is fine. I don’t have to explain myself to anybody. I’m just ready to go out there play my senior year and play free and just showcase my abilities with a bunch of elite players around me.”
Buford’s stadium’s capacity is about 5,000, Appling said, but it was more than double that for an October game last season with Mill Creek.
Raiola is looking forward to Georgia fans showing up on Friday nights to get an early glimpse of the future Bulldog.
“That’ll be cool,” he said. “That’ll be cool.”

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