Wisconsin football 'a blue-blood program,' according to director of player personnel Saeed Khalif
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More from Saeed Khalif: Wisconsin "a blue-blood program"

Saeed Khalif was all smiles when meeting with reporters on Wednesday afternoon.

At that point, 19 of Wisconsin's projected 21 scholarship signees in the 2021 class sent in their letters of intent (LOIs). There was no apparent drama, no surprises, no worries during the beginning of the early signing period.

“It really went according to plan," Khalif said via Zoom. "This was a culmination of some as long as 18-month recruiting cycle. I'm feeling really good about the relationships that were formed and the work that had been put in. One of the things I learned here is it becomes business as usual on Signing Day.”

By Wednesday evening, all 21 LOIs were received by Wisconsin -- the last coming in the early evening from four-star wide receiver Markus Allen.

Here are more takeaways from Wisconsin from the second conversation of the week with Khalif, Wisconsin's director of player personnel who also mentioned he was "beaming" before taking questions.

Khalif: Wisconsin "a blue-blood program"

As of Wednesday evening, Wisconsin still holds the No. 15 team in the country. That all but locked up what is the program's best class in the Rivals.com recruiting era after two previous years where those groups of incoming Badgers were heralded.

As a reporter asked to wrap up the session, "is this the expectation now for Wisconsin?"

"Yes. We want to compete. It's what we want to be," Khalif said. "We want to be a top program, and we want ourselves recognized with top programs in everything that we do. Our football play, our recruiting and our academics, we want it all to measure up, so yeah, it's a big deal for us. We'd love to be in the conversations and people talking top 20 and that kind of stuff. Awesome to hear if that helps us get us over the hump.

“We're not, again, rating chasers. It just means we want our evaluation considered, just like some of the other programs that you would consider a blue blood. We're a blue-blood program, and that's where we should be, and we have to work to continue to do that. That means getting in some battles, and we want to feel like we got a strong enough product to do that.

“That's kind of where we're from and that’s the space we come from. Feel like we have the product. We've had the history, and we feel like we need to be in those conversations on those levels.”

[Writer's note: Regarding the ratings chasers comment, see the Badgers' Den forum where another question was discussed from Monday's availability with Khalif regarding messaging that was not included with BadgerBlitz's takeaways article from Wednesday.]

Skyler Bell "feels like he's got some things to prove," according to Khalif

Earlier in the week, Khalif alluded to two players -- not by name, once again according to NCAA rules -- coming in who are "very good football players that we're excited about that will change his room significantly."

Wednesday, Skyler Bell made it official when he signed his LOI to play for the Badgers. The three-star receiver from the Bronx -- though he played ball in Connecticut at The Taft School -- received an offer in late April and announced his decision to commit in August.

“When his name came up, it came right around pandemic time, so we really couldn't get back to him," Khalif said of Bell. "But just watching him and watching his body development, understanding his dad had a big commitment to training, so we knew he was a kind of kid that put in work. It was in his DNA. And then just watching for the explosiveness with the ball, his physicality. He’s got the Bronx chip on his shoulder, too. So don't hurt to have a little tough guy out here in Madison that we’re trying to throw the ball to him and will fight for it, so that was exciting.

“Just made the connection. He was easy to talk to. He carries himself well, expresses himself well. You don't have to guess what he's thinking. You probably follow some of his work outs there on social [media]. He feels like he's got some things to prove. Obviously disappointed with not having the ability to play this season, but his body of work was still enough for us to say he fits us, and we love to have him.”

Taking on the reclassification question for a particular recruit

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