Bryce Perkins quickly made his mark at Virginia, leading the program to new heights and elevating his draft stock in the process. Despite all the obstacles he had to overcome during his college football career, the California native is just two months away from making it to the NFL.
Perkins had a strong senior year with the Cavaliers, throwing for 3,530 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also showcased his versatility by adding 769 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.
Virginia finished the 2019 season with a 9-5 record. The biggest win of the season came against Virginia Tech, as the Cavaliers snapped their 15-game losing streak to the Hokies.
We sat down with Perkins to discuss the team’s big win over Virginia Tech, which quarterbacks he tries to model his game after and his path to the NFL Draft. Let’s get this interview started.
The Spun: This past season, Virginia snapped its 15-game losing streak to Virginia Tech. How’d it feel to beat the Hokies?
Bryce Perkins: It felt really good, especially how things ended the year before and losing in such a close fashion where we almost broke the streak then. To do in front of the home crowd this year was dope. The stands were rocking, and it felt like a movie.
The Spun: During that game you showcased your speed with a 67-yard rushing touchdown. When you enter the NFL will you be the fastest quarterback, or does that title still belong to Lamar Jackson?
BP: Man, seeing Lamar roll out is something crazy. I honestly don't know, but I'm still getting faster every day. If you ask me in a couple months from now, maybe my answer will change. But for right now, I think Lamar gets that crown. I’m close though.
The Spun: Your passing numbers at Virginia were quite impressive. With that being said, are you OK with scouts labeling you as a dual-threat quarterback?
BP: I think the label of a dual-threat quarterback has changed from what it has been. I feel like when someone used to say dual-threat quarterback, it was given to athletes that were really runners that could pass. But I think now since the game is changing, guys need to be able to move and have mobility - even in just the slightest bit. The guys that can get away from pressure and get away from other things are labeled as dual-threat quarterbacks because that's what the game is changing to. The label doesn't mean that you can't pass now. Dual-threat quarterbacks are now very capable of passing and running, so I'm not offended by it at all. I’m not trying to take away any part of my game because I know I can do both.
The Spun: Would you rather break a defender’s ankles or drop a dime over the top?
BP: Always the dime. The running aspect is natural. Dropping a dime is a result of how you work on things over the summer and offseason while you're training with your quarterback coach or whoever you train with. To see the thing you put most of your time into come to life is pretty to watch.
The Spun: What’s your greatest strength heading into the NFL Draft?
BP: I think it’s how I play for my teammates. Guys on my team will know that I will fight for them until the last minute because I know they’ll fight for me. I think that's what makes me special. The doggedness in me is what makes me a winner.
The Spun: How long do you think it’ll take before Virginia dethrones Clemson?
BP: With Coach Mendenhall, it’s going to happen sooner than later. If anybody looks at his track record, you can see the constant improvement from year to year. A couple of plays, a couple more mistakes eliminated by us and we could have won 10 or 11 games this past year. Coach Mendenhall is taking note of everything like that and keeps building. The young bucks that are coming up and didn’t get a chance to shine as much last year are going to be a force to be reckon with. I look to see it sooner than later just because I know Coach Mendenhall will get that team prepared for every fight.
The Spun: It was shocking to see your name left off the list of participants for the NFL Combine. How do you use snub as motivation?
BP: That’s enough motivation right there. I was shocked too, but it wasn't something that I really sulked over because that next week I was more motivated than ever to get back to work. I’m taking it as if I have an extra week to prepare now and I'm going to get back to it. I'm still going to go out there and get better every day. My focus has shifted to my pro day and making sure that everybody that didn’t get a chance to see me at the NFL Combine is put on notice. I'm used to battling adversity and being put on the back burner. I'm very comfortable with running a race from behind.
The Spun: Speaking of your pro day, what’s the one area of your game where you really want to show scouts that you've improved?
BP: Intermediate to long accuracy and throwing on the run. During the first half of the season, a lot of my picks came on rolling out left and right. Showing that I'm accurate going both ways is something I'm excited to showcase.
The Spun: Your college career didn’t start off as well as you hoped it would, but when did you realize playing at Virginia was going to work for you?
BP: When spring ball started rolling around and I saw how much the offense shifted to my specific skillset with read options and different type of play calls, I said ‘I can see myself taking off and really being a force.’
The Spun: Are there any quarterbacks you try to model your game after?
BP: There's definitely multiple quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes is the Steph Curry of the NFL right now. Just seeing how he evades in and scramble drills is something that is very applicable to my game. And obviously Lamar Jackson and the things he does in the run game is fun to watch. I remember for the longest I grew up watching and studying Aaron Rodgers when I was in college just because of the unscripted plays that he did. They were definitely something that I noticed and something I wanted to replicate.
The Spun: When an NFL team selects Bryce Perkins, what are they getting?
BP: They’re getting someone who is a playmaker, athletic and super smart. A lot of people don't know that I am very knowledgeable about the game and my growth keeps growing. I haven't even seen my ceiling yet, so they’re going to get a player that keeps getting better year by year.
Perkins is arguably the most athletic quarterback available this NFL Draft. But make no mistake, he's also a prolific passer. He broke Virginia's single-season passing record with 3,538 yards this past year.
The Perkins family has been around football for the past few decades. Bryce's father, Bruce Perkins, played for Arizona State and then had a brief stint in the NFL. His brother, Paul, was selected by the New York Giants in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Bryce is next in line from the Perkins family to make the NFL. We'll find out which team selects the Virginia star in April.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.