Gibson Pyle had a good feeling that Nebraska was going to be his next home, but he wanted one last opportunity to make sure he was 100 percent confident.
He got that chance during the Huskers’ massive March 24-26 recruiting weekend as the 2024 offensive lineman was one of more than two dozen visitors on campus. Already on the verge of making a decision, that visit was the final cherry on top that he needed. After leaving campus and letting the glow of the visit simmer, the choice was still clear.
He has now locked in that decision: Pyle has committed to Nebraska. The three-star Klein Cain (Texas) prospect joins fellow three-star Texas prospect Roger Gradney as the Huskers’ second commitment in the 2024 class.
There were a lot of factors that went into Pyle’s decision, and he detailed them in an interview with Inside Nebraska.
“I had it down to three schools before the visit,” said Pyle, who had Duke and North Carolina as the other two he was most strongly considering. “I went with my dad that first weekend in March, and I was really blown away. That weekend (March 24-26), I went with my mom and step-dad, and I feel like that second visit re-affirmed what I thought and sealed it away for me. … Just to have my mom, my step-dad and my dad to all see the same place – them seeing how happy I looked there was huge.”
That first March visit was close to wrapping things up for the 6-foot-4 junior, who is now up to 300 pounds. He didn’t get a chance to meet with Matt Rhule during that initial trip because the head coach was out of town. So getting to talk with him, see how he coaches and what practices are like were all top-of-the-agenda items for his March 24-26 visit, and he came away impressed.
“(Rhule was coaching) all the units, and that was really big for me,” Pyle said. “You see with a lot of head coaches … they just kind of sit back and just watch practice. But I really like it when Coach Rhule is going around, going to every single unit, coaching them up, really stepping into drills and really being in there. I just feel like that means a lot more.”
It wasn’t just Rhule’s style that sealed the deal for the talented Texan. He also got an up-close look at how offensive line coach Donovan Raiola teaches his players.
Raiola’s personality has become well known now that he is in his second year in the program. He is very reserved in public and with the media and will never say 10 words when five words will do just fine. He is completely different when he’s coaching on the field, though.
That’s one thing that Pyle has noticed and come to appreciate and like about Raiola. It’s sort of how a lot of the players at that position conduct themselves.
“I feel like that’s how most O-linemen are is you just flip on that switch when you step on the field between the white lines,” Pyle said. “That’s what I really like about him. Off the field, he’s gonna calmly coach you, talk you through what you did wrong and stuff. But at the same time, on the field he’s gonna coach you hard.
“He told me he’s gonna put me through the most stressful situations in practice so that way, when you’re in the game, you’re used to it. That was big for me and just to see he gets after it on the field. He’s not afraid to raise his voice, and I really like a coach who’s gonna get after it on the field.”
Pyle is comfortable with Raiola and very excited about him being his position coach at the next level. He’s also fully on board with Raiola’s vision for him with the Huskers.
“Coach Raiola definitely thinks I’ll be an interior guy,” Pyle said. “He still thinks I’m athletic enough to play tackle, but right now he’s also got some big guys at tackle. He recruited me off my play style. He truly thinks I could play anywhere, but he does see me in the interior at guard or center.”
Beyond the critical coaching factors and visions for his development, another primary reason for Pyle to pick the Huskers was seeing the vibes in and around the program – and to experience a glimpse into the fan base’s passion.
“The atmosphere (in the facilities) was great,” Pyle said. “And I feel like the atmosphere just all around Lincoln was great, too. Even on my flight in, I got recognized on my flight there. They just asked me, ‘Hey, are you going on a recruiting visit? Gibson, right?’ I feel like it’s just nuts. The entire atmosphere around Nebraska, there’s nothing like it.”
That atmosphere was experienced by 27 confirmed visitors during one of the biggest recruiting weekends for the program over the last 15-20 years – which included two keynote visitors that are Pyle’s offensive line peers. Now that he is locked in, Pyle’s next focus is becoming a peer recruiter, and getting those two on board is his first step in that role.
“One thing that was big for me that weekend was getting to meet the other guys that the coaches are high on,” Pyle said. “I got most of the O-line guys’ numbers who were there, so I’m definitely gonna be reaching out to them and trying to get them to Nebraska as well. Gage Ginther and Grant Brix – those are the two that I meshed with pretty well, so I’ll be reaching out to them and telling them what’s up.”