One of the most intriguing aspects of the bowl games is that for some players, it’s their collegiate curtain call.
It’s the last time you will get to see these seniors or pro prospects in action on this stage before eventually see them on the stage of the NFL Draft.
The Orange Bowl has been that way in recent years. Even if it wasn’t the last game we saw them, Miami’s big bowl game has seen its fair share of NFL prospects display their talents over the course of this waning decade. Among the 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL today, four have played in the Orange Bowl (Kyler Murray, DeShaun Watson, Baker Mayfield and Dak Prescott). Three more quarterbacks have parlayed playing in the Orange Bowl to brief NFL careers (Braxton Miller, EJ Manuel and Geno Smith).
So could this year’s Orange Bowl be the NFL launching pad for Virginia senior quarterback Bryce Perkins?
Perkins arrived to UVA as a transfer from Arizona Western Community College. In his two years with the Cavaliers, Perkins completed 64 percent of his passes and amassed 5,895 passing yards and 43 touchdowns with 20 interceptions. He’s also rushed for 1,668 yards and 20 touchdowns.
He’s your prototypical mobile quarterback in an age that is finally warming up to it. UVA offensive coordinator Robert Anae said in his press conference on Saturday that, “This is now a quarterback sport.” And Perkins see’s himself as an NFL quarterback.
“Yeah, definitely. And I’m getting better,” Perkins said. “I feel like I get better every year as far as whatever it is, something little. So I feel like my ceiling is high. I haven’t reached my potential yet. And how the NFL is shifting, there’s room and there’s a place for my style of play. And I think it can be very effective, and Lamar Jackson, amongst others, he’s just a more recent, has been very influential on the type of player, the type of system that teams run.”
The Chandler, Ariz., native comes from a football family. His father, Bruce, played fullback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1990 and Indianapolis Colts in 1991. His uncle, Don Perkins, played eight seasons as a running back with the Dallas Cowboys during the 1960’s and his brother, Paul, is currently a running back with the Detroit Lions.
“I think about it, but I also know that the things I do now, it’s going to influence that more,” Perkins said. “In thinking about the NFL, I’m focused on now in order to get to.”
Perkins’ two years at UVA has been two of the most successful seasons a quarterback has seen in recent school history. He led the Cavaliers to an 8-5 season last year including a win over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl and this year, he takes them to the Orange Bowl needing a win over the Florida Gators to reach 10 on the year for only the second time in school history.
“Nobody has ever done it before,” Perkins said. “Well, one other team has done it before. So for us to get it right aligns with all our goals. It sets us up to be one of the best teams in UVA history, just being mentioned with the other great 10-win team. It’s a testament to our hard work throughout the summer, our hard work and transition from last year to this year, and the culture and the players who built and kind of set the platform when they first got here. A lot of these guys were on the two-win team and kind of see the transition from the program and how it came from not a bowl game to three bowl games in a row.”