Donovan Raiola is in his third season as Nebraska’s offensive line coach in 2024. Raiola owns 13 years of coaching experience, including four years as an offensive line coach in the National Football League.
Raiola, who was retained when Matt Rhule was hired, joined Nebraska after spending four seasons as an assistant offensive line coach with the Chicago Bears. He also coached offensive linemen at Aurora (Ill.) University, in addition to collegiate coaching stops at Notre Dame and Hawaii.
In addition to being in his 10th season as an offensive line coach, Raiola was an outstanding lineman himself. A three-time All-Big Ten selection at Wisconsin, Raiola went on to play six seasons in the NFL.
Raiola's offensive line was arguably the most improved unit on Nebraska's 2023 team. The group, which lost two starters to season-ending injuries, paved the way for a Husker rushing attack that ranked second in the Big Ten. Nebraska was able to consistently make explosive plays behind the play of the offensive line. Nebraska ranked ninth nationally in runs of 40 yards or longer, and NU was second in the Big Ten in offensive plays of 50 yards or longer.
Bryce Benhart and Ben Scott each earned All-Big Ten recognition under Raiola's development. Benhart also tied the Nebraska record for career starts by an offensive lineman with his 41st start against Iowa.
Raiola helped Nebraska’s offensive line overcome many challenges during the 2022 season, including a mid-season coaching change. Raiola’s unit had plenty of adversity of its own, as one projected starter was lost before the season began and another starter was lost for the year in game three. Starting right guard Broc Bando also missed time due to injuries, while first-year transfer Kevin Williams Jr. worked his way into a starting role by the fourth game of the season against Oklahoma, only to be lost for the season with an injury suffered against the Sooners.
Despite the injuries, the offensive line nearly paved the way for a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver, something that has happened only once in the history of Nebraska football. Trey Palmer set a Nebraska single-season receiving record with 1,043 yards, while Anthony Grant had five 100-yard rushing performances and ran for 915 yards, the highest total by a Husker in four seasons.
Behind the play of the line, Nebraska had two games in 2022 where the Huskers had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher and a 100-yard receiver. Entering the year, Nebraska had accomplished that feat only seven times in its first 132 seasons.
CHICAGO BEARS: Raiola helped the Bears to two playoff appearances in his four seasons on staff from 2018 to 2021. In his first season in Chicago assisting offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, the Bears posted a 12-4 record and captured the NFC North Division title. The Bears offensive line allowed just 33 sacks, tied for the third fewest in the NFC, while Chicago averaged 26.3 points per game, the fourth-best average in the NFC.
In the 2020 season, Raiola helped tutor an offensive line that featured six different starting combinations. Raiola assisted in helping develop a pair of rookie undrafted free agents (Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars) into starters late in the season, as the Bears reached the NFC playoffs. The Bears rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 2021, ranking seventh in the NFC in rushing.
AURORA UNIVERSITY: Raiola spent the 2017 season as the offensive line coach at Aurora University in Illinois. Raiola’s line helped the Spartans average more than 200 yards rushing.
NOTRE DAME: Raiola was an offensive graduate assistant at Notre Dame in 2015 and 2016 assisting offensive line coach Harry Hiestand, helping develop six Fighting Irish offensive linemen who went on to play in the NFL. In 2015, the Fighting Irish finished with a 10-3 record and averaged more than 34 points per game. Notre Dame again averaged more than 30 points per game in 2016.
HAWAII: Raiola’s first collegiate stop was in his home state of Hawaii as an offensive intern in 2014. At Hawaii, Raiola worked under Head Coach Norm Chow, an accomplished offensive coordinator who helped USC to a pair of national titles in 2003 and 2004.
KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS-KAPALAMA: Raiola began his coaching career with two seasons at Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama in 2012 and 2013. At Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama, Raiola coached the offensive line and organized clinics for offensive linemen throughout the state of Hawaii.
PLAYING CAREER (WISCONSIN & NFL)
Raiola spent parts of six seasons playing in the NFL, signing contracts with the Rams, Steelers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Bears, Buccaneers and Commanders. Raiola started 39 games at center for Wisconsin and was a three-time honorable-mention All-Big Ten selection from 2003 to 2005. He helped the Badgers to top-20 finishes in each of his final two seasons.
Raiola earned his degree in agricultural business management from Wisconsin in 2005. He is the younger brother of Dominic Raiola, an All-America center and Rimington Trophy winner for the Huskers.
2022-present: Nebraska (Offensive Line)
2018-21: Chicago Bears (Assistant Offensive Line)
2017: Aurora (Ill.) University (Offensive Line)
2015-16: Notre Dame (Graduate Assistant, Offense)
2014: Hawaii (Intern, Offense)
2012-13: Kamehameha Schools-Kapalama (Offensive Line)