by Jack Neary
On the field, Bryce Perkins is a dual threat – able to make plays with his arms or his legs, but when he was 12, Perkins had a third talent – the drums.
The Cavalier quarterback’s middle school passion for the drums started with a home video of his dad, Bruce.
“I saw a video of my dad playing the drums one time, it was in my grandma’s basement,” Perkins said. “My dad was killing it. As soon as I saw that, I wanted a drum set so I could play like him.”
After asking many times for a kit, Perkins finally received one for Christmas and began to practice the drums with the same focus and drive he would later bring to football.
“School started at 8:50 a.m., and I would wake up at 7:00 a.m. and just get on and start playing until school,” Perkins said. “I played for an hour and a half every day.”
Perkins’ family members were not around to hear his early morning practices because they had already left for work, but his neighbors were.
“My neighbors would call my parents and say ‘We hear him in the morning’ but they never came over,” Perkins said. “No one ever came and complained. They definitely heard me. I was rocking out for sure.”
In middle school, Perkins’ musical influences reflected his love of the drums.
“AC/DC was probably the biggest [influence],” Perkins said. “Paramore was another big one. We had a girl that would come and sing with us and she liked Paramore so we played that too. I would say AC/DC and Aerosmith were my biggest [influences].”
All of that practice led Perkins to his middle school talent show, where he played drums and his friend played guitar.
“We played a little bit of AC/DC and we played “Misery Business” by Paramore,” Perkins said.
Unfortunately, the drum set did not make the trip to Charlottesville. But he did continue creating music.
“I remember in high school, every lunch my friends and I would go and freestyle all of lunch for three years straight,” Perkins said. “We would record ourselves and make a mock track. Hip-hop was a big part of my life growing up and through high school.”
Since Perkins has moved to Virginia, he has had a variety of new experiences, which includes new musical genres.
“I never listened to country at all in Arizona,” Perkins said. “Since I’ve been here, a lot of guys like country. Now I’ll listen to it more. I’ve found a couple songs I like.”
Living in Virginia doesn’t mean that Perkins has fully converted to country music, but he does not just listen to Aerosmith and AC/DC either. Perkins says he listens mostly to hip-hop and R&B.
“J. Cole is my favorite hip-hop artist right now,” Perkins said.
From high school, in each of his stops before and now to UVA, J. Cole has given Perkins a semblance of continuity.
“I listen to one song by [J. Cole] before every game – Return of Simba,” Perkins said. “I have been listening to that song since sophomore year of high school.”
Something else that has stayed constant is the support of Perkins’ family. Perkins’ older brother Paul, who played football at UCLA and is currently a member of the New York Giants, played a part in leading Perkins to play football.
“I did not even like football for a while growing up,” Perkins said. “I was playing basketball. I didn’t like going to football, I didn’t like watching football.”
That changed when he started attending his brother’s football games.
“My brother would be playing at Pop Warner practice and me and a few other kids would be on the side playing football and I realized I was really good at it,” Perkins said. “From there I got into football and after that it took off.”
Something that Perkins’ brother could not prepare him for was the Virginia weather, a stark change from Arizona, where he had played both high school and college football.
“Back home, I would wet my towel because it’s drier,” Perkins said. “I wanted my hands more wet out there and here I want them drier because it’s more humid. Now I have chalk because my hands get really sweaty in the humidity. That is probably the biggest difference, getting used to the humidity.”
Perkins is still getting used to the little things that are different in Charlottesville: the humidity, the music and the distance from his family, but his family continues to bring him inspiration and advice, as they always have.