Wisconsin 'Up There' for 2021 WR Skyler Bell
Like many 2021 prospects, Skyler Bell's recruiting journey has been influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent dead period that now lasts through July 31. The projected wide receiver from The Taft School in Watertown, Conn., noted how without the evaluation period and camps, he feels that he has not received "that extra push to see more schools" and the chance to get his name out there more.
Though there has been an inability to make trips to prospective suitors at the next level, Bell has also seen spots fill up for particular programs during this time. The three-star wide receiver according to 247Sports, Rivals and ESPN originally planned on committing on May 20. However, he realized he needed more time.
"It wasn't necessarily that the other schools had offered me," Bell told AllBadgers.com. "but I just wanted to make sure I was looking at all the schools and giving them an equal chance and really getting the details and making sure that I’m making the right decision.”
Despite not being able to physically see those programs and their respective campuses, Bell has taken in some virtual visits during the pandemic. The wide out listed seven schools to AllBadgers.com where he has had that experience -- Rutgers, West Virginia, Wake Forest, Temple, Wisconsin, Iowa and Northwestern.
According to Bell, UW's virtual visit allowed him to see the campus dorms, locker room, players' lounge, Camp Randall Stadium and the academic building.
"I thought it was great. I saw everything, and it blew me away," Bell said. "The campus is beautiful. Only thing I didn't really get to see was, I didn't get to get a feel of it with the students on campus. That's probably the only thing that you miss with the whole virtual visit thing.”
Bell announced an offer from Wisconsin on April 29, but the relationship with the program started earlier with tight ends coach Mickey Turner, who recruits up in the New England region. New wide receivers coach Alvis Whitted was hired in early March and eventually extended the opportunity.
The wide receiver noted that he speaks with Whitted two to three times a week.
“Sometimes we just talk. Sometimes it's about football and schemes and things like that, and other times, he's just checking up on me," Bell said. "I think we built a pretty good relationship, and I hope to keep building it.”
There are discussions with the head of the football program as well.
"I also talk to Coach (Paul) Chryst probably once a week," Bell said. "We get on the phone and just talk about recruiting and sometimes just about life, too.”
Bell's junior Hudl film boasts he caught 36 passes for 549 yards and eight receiving touchdowns in 2019. Wisconsin believes they can use him in a variety of ways in Whitted's room.
"(Whitted) thinks I can play all three receiver positions -- outside to the boundary, outside to the field and then slot to the field or to the boundary," Bell said. "Then just trying to find ways to give me the ball, like jet sweeps and mismatches and certain routes and schemes and concepts. Get in open space and maybe every now and then throw a deep ball, things like that.”
Bell said that he tries to be active on Twitter in showing off his skillset. Within the last month, he has shown off a 4.45-second hand-timed 40-yard dash time, a 10'7.5" broad jump and on-field work in hopes to gain interest from schools while also making sure those programs who have offered see the most up-to-date information.
When taking a look at his social media, however, some of Wisconsin's current commits for the class of 2021 like quarterback Deacon Hill and running back Loyal Crawford also appear to be trying to woo Bell to Madison.
"I talk to some of the '21 (commits). I talk to Jack (Pugh), Deacon and T.J. (Bollers), all those guys. We have a good relationship. They know they want me there," Bell said. "They say that they’re trying to win a national championship. They need someone, a receiver, to do that in this class, and they want that to be me and maybe another. I don't know many receivers Wisconsin is taking yet, but they want me there.
"I can feel the love that they have for me. It’s definitely special.”
As of earlier this week, Bell acknowledged that the schools he talks to the most are Wisconsin, Iowa, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Rutgers. When asked when he would like to make a decision about where he will play college football, he admitted "it's tough."
“I want to take some visits, but as time goes on and I start to build relationships with schools and see more schools, I would think that if I come to a point where I'm ready before the season, then I'm gonna make the decision," Bell said. "If not, I'm going to wait, take my visits and make sure I'm making the right decision.”
Where does Wisconsin stand at the moment to Bell?
“Wisconsin, I would probably say they’re up there," Bell said. "Great program, great school, big-time football. They’re ranked I think, top five in the preseason polls for this year. Wisconsin is up there for me for sure.”