Kirby Smart did it again.

Another year, another 5-star quarterback recruit. The latest in the growing line of 5-star quarterback recruits to pledge to Georgia was Dylan Raiola, AKA the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2024 class. The son of longtime NFL offensive lineman Dominic Raiola picked Georgia instead of his dad’s alma mater, Nebraska, and USC, where Lincoln Riley’s Heisman Trophy factory of quarterbacks is already up and running after relocating from Norman.

It’s remarkable, really. No, not that Smart continues to bring in talent at an elite level on the heels of becoming the first team to repeat as national champs in the Playoff era.

It’s remarkable that the 5-star quarterback is about the only thing that has yet to blossom in Athens.

(Remember that Jake Fromm just missed out on being a 5-star recruit when he signed in 2017.)

Between Jacob Eason, Justin Fields, JT Daniels and Brock Vandagriff, Smart started a former 5-star quarterback just 20 times, 12 of which came in from Eason in Smart’s first season back in 2016. Eason, Fields and Daniels all left Georgia at the end of Year 2 for another Power 5 program. Go figure that Vandagriff, who has yet to start a game and could still be waiting behind Carson Beck, has actually been in Athens longer than all 3 of his 5-star predecessors.

Weird, yes. If you’re not winning national championships, that’s a major demerit. When you are, well, what does it really matter? Also, what does it matter if Smart is still roping in quarterback talent like Raiola in what’ll be his 9th recruiting class?

Railoa’s commitment might’ve made some of those “this is why Arch Manning would never go to Georgia” claims fall on deaf ears. If you include Daniels, Raiola will become the 5th 5-star quarterback that Smart has signed in his 9 classes. In other words, it’s still more likely than not that Smart will sign a 5-start quarterback in a given year. Even Nick Saban has only signed 5 5-star quarterbacks at Alabama —  his 6th could be 2024 pledge Julian Sayin, who has been a 5-star but just slipped to 4-star status.

Maybe Raiola was impacted by the offensive juggernaut Georgia became in 2022. The Dawgs put together their first top-40 passing offense since Aaron Murray was in Athens.

You could argue that for the first time since Smart took over, Georgia had a pitch to an elite quarterback recruit that was more than “look at all the talent you’ll get to play with and the championships you’ll compete for.”

Don’t get it twisted. That’s still a great pitch. But Smart’s current pitch is pretty darn hard to poke holes in. Raiola can help that … or he could continue that bizarre trend of 5-star QB departures. The guy is on his third high school and his second college commitment, after all.

But Monday’s commitment from the nation’s top recruit wasn’t about that. It was about making the college football masses collectively roll their eyes at what Smart is doing. That crowd can’t even cling to some weird hope that the program gets put on probation and it all comes crumbling down. Smart and other elite recruiters can thank the muddied waters of NIL for that.

You could make the case that Smart had a leg up on the field for all of his other 5-star quarterbacks. Eason was a Mark Richt era recruit that Smart had to keep committed in that first class, Fields and Vandagriff both flipped their commitments back to in-state Georgia while Daniels had lost his job due to injuries at USC. But Raiola? Smart had to fend off the legacy school and Riley to pluck someone from across the country. Raiola stars for Pinnacle HS in Phoenix.

Even for Smart, that was big time.

One would think if there’s ever a chance for a 5-star quarterback to finally start and finish his career in Athens, it’s Raiola. That doesn’t mean he’s automatically ticketed to become the next Matthew Stafford as a prolific future No. 1 overall pick. Perhaps not having that quarterback in the class ahead of him will open the door for Raiola to actually be the expected starter as a sophomore. Alternatively, one of Georgia’s current quarterbacks could use their multiple years of eligibility left to delay his path and he could follow the likes of Eason, Fields and Daniels, all of whom bounced after 2 seasons.

Whatever the future holds, Raiola’s commitment was another loud reminder to the college football world.

The machine in Athens keeps plowing through the 2020s.