Turning On the Charm

Spring Game Offers Grand Stage for Attracting Prospects

By Scottie Spinazola

Glorified “thud” drills standing in for the spring game may not have impressed some long-time Husker fans, but a certain set of other visitors didn’t seem to mind.

As potential recruits for the 2023, 2024 and 2025 classes filed into Memorial Stadium April 9, what they saw were 55,000 fans enjoying football on a sunny day in April.

That doesn’t happen everywhere.

Athletic Director Trev Alberts visits with Ochaun Mathis at midfield. Mathis is a highly sought edge rusher who plans to transfer from TCU and is expected to make a decision by the end of April.
Athletic Director Trev Alberts visits with Ochaun Mathis at midfield. Mathis is a highly sought edge rusher who plans to transfer from TCU and is expected to make a decision by the end of April.

The athletic department used the moment to show off the football team’s newest additions – the 2022 class – with highlight videos on the big screen.

The stadium roared. The throng of visiting prospects took note.

One of them was five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola, currently going into his junior season at Chandler High in Arizona after playing his sophomore season at Burleson High in Texas.

Raiola, at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, is the No. 1-ranked recruit nationally for 2024 and is being pursued by every school confident enough to throw its hat into the ring.

The name is familiar to Husker fans, of course. Dylan is the son of former Husker great Dominic Raiola and nephew of Nebraska offensive line coach Donovan Raiola. Dylan and Donovan did connect on the field and shared some laughs as the youngster showed off his best offensive lineman impression.

Athletic Director Trev Alberts and Raiola seemed chummy as they walked down the tunnel and onto the field from the same gate the players use. The fans roared.

Later, Raiola could be seen talking with fans, posing for pictures and even holding someone’s baby.

Another player who drew plenty of eyeballs was Ochaun Mathis, a 6-5, 235-pound edge rusher who was twice named All-Big 12 at TCU but is now looking for a new team.

There were a lot of Raiolas at the Husker spring game. Here Dominic, Yvonne, Dayton, Dylan and Donovan gather on the field prior to the game. Dylan is a top quarterback prospect for 2024.
There were a lot of Raiolas at the Husker spring game. Here Dominic, Yvonne, Dayton, Dylan and Donovan gather on the field prior to the game. Dylan is a top quarterback prospect for 2024.

For most of the pregame festivities, Mathis stood at midfield and soaked in the atmosphere. An occasional visit from Alberts resulted in shared laughs and smiles.

After the game, coach Scott Frost said that indeed the Huskers would be looking to add pieces to the defensive line “if the right ones are available.” Presumably, Mathis fits that definition well.

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