By Hannah Gross
With a stroke of luck, you might be able to catch Bryce Perkins somewhere other than practice at McCue or recovering at his apartment.
“No such thing as spare time,” Bryce says with a blinding smile. The dual-threat quarterback for the Cavaliers is locked in and focused on the season.
There are a few things outside of football that Perkins does manage to find time for. He frequents Mel’s Cafe down the road from his apartment, enjoys going downtown to The Fitzroy, and always has time for his dog Rosie.
“Rosie lives in my apartment,” Perkins said. “She’s a pit bull-terrier mix so she’s a smaller dog and she’s a little bit aggressive. But she’s lovely.”
In addition to Rosie, Perkins shares a place with De’Vante Cross and Terrell Chatman. With teammates down the hall such as Joe Reed and Jordan Mack, Perkins spends plenty of time with his teammates off the field.
“The offense in general is a close-knit group,” Perkins said. “I’m close with all of those guys and comfortable telling everybody anything about myself.”
For Perkins, football is a family affair. His father Bruce was a fullback at Arizona State and had a stint in the NFL. His uncle, Don Perkins, was a running back for the Dallas Cowboys. However, even with this pedigree, Perkins had no initial intention of playing football.
“Man, I didn’t really like football when I was a kid,” Perkins said. “Yeah, when I was a kid and my older brother was playing at practice, me and the other younger brothers would be on the sidelines just playing. Those days are when I realized that I was pretty good at it. The next year I enrolled in flag football and then after that it was all she wrote.”
His older brother, Paul Perkins, would go on to have a successful career as a running back at UCLA before being drafted by the New York Giants. He now plays for the Detroit Lions. Paul’s impact on Bryce can’t be overstated.
“He has definitely been a big influence,” Perkins said. “I’ve been able to see him at every stage: high school, college, and the pros. Just seeing him at every stage in the process gives me a better idea of what to expect. It also gives me a vision of how hard I need to work.”
Back in his hometown of Queen Creek, Ariz., Perkins has a team that cheers him on every week.
“My mother and father have both been a huge supporters of mine,” Perkins said. “They continue to keep calling me after every game, good or bad, and just give me their unbiased opinion. All three of them, my mother, brother and father have just been totally supportive of me. With everything that I’ve been through, they’ve been by my side the whole way.”
Perkins’ support system has been critical along the way to becoming Virginia’s quarterback. The road to Scott Stadium was not easy.
“The challenge of getting here involved deciding if I wanted to come here,” Perkins said. “The process of getting recruited and making the move out here was difficult.”
Perkins speaks openly about embracing and overcoming setbacks. In fact, he claims that is his favorite thing about the team this season.
“I love how we battle back from adversity,” Perkins said. “We had a rough stretch, but we never came in the next week down on ourselves. We battle every week to be better than the last.”
Experience in tough situations has helped Perkins develop resilience and a tough mental mindset on the field.
“The challenge playing here has been improving and trying to eliminate mistakes that I just made in a game,” Perkins said. “Also, trying to pick the team up when we’re down. At times it is hard, like during that away stretch, when a lot of us are down. It is difficult to try to put mistakes behind us and move on to the next play or game. You hate to lose and it’s definitely hard to move on to the next win. Slowly over time, I think I’ve gotten better at that.”
Perkins gives credit to many on the Virginia football staff for mentoring him on and off the field.
“Coach (Marques) Hagans and Coach (Jason) Beck have been big influences as far as my development as a player and a person in general,” Perkins said. “I’ve just been leaning on those guys to help me grow. Along with the guys in the locker room, they have all helped me develop into who I am today.”
As his career at Virginia draws to a close, Perkins looks forward to the challenges and opportunities for growth in the short-term future.
“I mean hopefully, God willing, in the next few years I’m still playing football in the NFL and having a successful career,” Perkins said. “I want to make an impact on and off the field, just mentoring guys and being the best player, I can be.”
Down the road he sees himself working with young athletes. His experiences, both the difficult and triumphant ones, will lend themselves well to developing skills and character in youth.
“I want to get into coaching,” Perkins said. “I’m not sure how confident I feel about it yet, my feelings may change, but I want to get into some kind of coaching whether that be a private coach or a position coach. I just want to be influencing kids, speaking to kids, and helping them develop. That is definitely one of the dreams that I have.”
For now, as he soaks up his last few college football games, he does have some advice for the young fans who want to put on pads and a helmet.
“Anything that comes your way or that knocks you down, there is always another side,” Perkins said. “I broke my neck and never thought that I would play football again. I had a dream and believed. You have to believe in yourself more than anyone believes in you. When you are your own biggest critic and biggest fan, there is nothing that you can’t do.”
It’s a safe bet that for the rest of the season Perkins will continue to live this ideal out. He’ll once again get up and practice at McCue, watch film, go to class, recover and repeat. He’s focused on the team goals that were set in the beginning of August that are now in reach: beat Virginia Tech, win the ACC Coastal and win out. Indeed, no such thing as spare time.
Perkins speaks with passion and seriousness when it comes to accomplishing these goals. He means business. Yet, given a chance at any last words, he breaks into a playful grin, “I got a great hair routine, so if you need it, I got you!”