A conversation about top 2024 quarterback Dylan Raiola and Oregon's status in Arizona
Chandler High coach Rick Garretson on Oregon's chances at 2024's No. 1 prospect, what to make of $8 million NIL deals and how UO's new staff has attacked the Southwest.
Mario Cristobal’s dominance in California drew many recruiting headlines during his four years in Eugene. It was under Cristobal that the Ducks pulled 4/5-stars like Kayvon Thibodeaux, Justin Flowe and Mykael Wright right from the backyards of USC and UCLA.
“Oregon football owns Southern California,” wrote LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke after Oregon beat Wisconsin in the 2020 Rose Bowl. Earlier that week, Cristobal called California the Ducks’ home state.
“We’ve made it a priority,” the coach said.
So when Cristobal leaves and the new staff has a few runner-up finishes in the state early here in Dan Lanning’s tenure, it registers. No, the sky is not falling as the message boards will occasionally tell you. The reason Oregon lost out on California 5-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava is very likely because Nico Iamaleava is the one reportedly on the receiving end of an $8 million NIL deal with Tennessee. It’s a different playing field and the Ducks will have to figure out how to adjust their efforts in one of the West Coast’s few recruiting hot beds.
And I say “one of” and not “only,” because that brings us to the insurance policy Cristobal created in the Southwest.
Cristobal built quite the Oregon infrastructure in Arizona. In Oregon’s program-best 2021 class, the Ducks had four of the state’s top 10 players — No. 1 Ty Thompson, No. 2 Bram Walden, No. 5 Jonah Miller and No. 9 Brandon Buckner.
That happened by bombardment. Cristobal and his staff were at those schools. They made a point of offering those players early. Oregon was a constant in the hallways.
And when talking this week to Chandler High coach Rick Garretson, it seems that Lanning and his staff will make it a point of continuing that trend. Garretson spent 16 years as offensive coordinator at Servite in California and has been the head coach at the Arizona powerhouse since 2019.
Chandler has sent Johnny Johnson III and Buckner to Oregon, and Garretson has a pair of players on his roster who the Ducks covet: 2023 four-star defensive lineman A’Mauri Washington and 2024 five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola — On3.com’s No. 1 prospect in 2024.
I spoke with Garretson on Saturday about Raiola, Washington, Dan Lanning’s staff and what a long-time high school coach makes of multi-million dollar NIL deals.
(This interview has been edited for clarity and length)
So, what’s it like having the No. 1 quarterback in the country on your team?
He’s a pretty good player. Special kid. He’s unique. I’ve had a lot of good quarterbacks at Chandler and Servite, but I haven’t seen anything like him. And he’s only played quarterback for two years.
If he’s only played two years, I imagine it’s mostly physical talent that stands out?
It’s everything. It’s not just physical, but it’s his mental, work ethic and strength. I mean, he’s 6-foot-3, 220-pounds with 20 percent body fat. He’s an MLB prospect as a catcher. His highlights show what he can do. He’s got the ability to be pretty unreal.
What comes along with the attention of having this caliber of recruit?
It’s nice because, say, like when Lincoln Riley came to watch Dylan throw — all of a sudden he’s wondering who this guy is and who that guy is. It gets other kids noticed. We had a lot of head coaches, coordinators and things like that coming through in January and we’ll probably have 100-plus in the month of May. It’s exciting.
What do you make of the $8 million NIL deal?