On top of all the contributions he made that can be measured in numbers, Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins displayed the kind of durability that set the Cavaliers up for the future.
One week after injuring an ankle at Georgia Tech that caused him to give way to freshman Brennan Armstrong for a series, Perkins went the distance Friday in a 34-31 overtime loss to Virginia Tech.
According to an NCAA rules change, Armstrong can play in as many as four games this year and meet the new requirements for a successful redshirt appeal. Armstrong has played in three games and would enter next season as a redshirt freshman, regardless of whether he plays in a UVa bowl game or not.
All indications are that Perkins will return next year after passing for 2,472 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also rushed for 842 yards and nine touchdowns.
He set single-season school records for total offense (3,314) and touchdown responsibility (31). And he can add to that as the Cavaliers (7-5, 4-4 ACC) await word on a likely bowl destination.
Perkins will return next season and possibly would be eligible to play collegiately in 2020 stemming from a neck injury that sidelined him as a redshirt freshman at Arizona State in 2016.
He subsequently transferred to Arizona Western for the 2017 season and played in the national junior-college championship game.
The only other scholarship quarterbacks in UVa’s program this year were sophomore Lindell Stone and Armstrong, who is in his first year in the program.
Armstrong received mop-up duty in the Cavaliers’ 42-13 victory over Richmond in UVa’s season opener and later saw action when an injured Perkins needed relief against Louisville and Georgia Tech.
Going into the regular-season finale at Virginia Tech, the best-case scenario for Armstrong was “that we don’t have to count this year as one of his years,” Mendenhall said.
“Every time we put him in, he scores touchdowns. I really like him.”
Armstrong, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound left-hander, accounted for nearly 10,000 yards in his career at Shelby (Ohio) High School and enrolled at Virginia before the start of the second semester. He had been committed to Minnesota for nearly 10 months before flipping to UVa.
“He’s Bryce’s heir apparent currently,” Mendenhall said last week. “One of the biggest takeaways from the season is we have a really good quarterback behind Bryce.
“I’m a fan because I watch [Armstrong] every day against the defense. They have a hard time stopping him and he thinks he can make every play.”
The lone quarterback who has committed to Virginia for the 2019 class is Robert Harvey Jr., who is listed at 5-10 and 187 pounds.
Harvey, from Edgewater High School in Orlando, Florida, is a triple threat who mostly was recruited by military schools and other programs that use an option attack.
NOTES: Perkins was responsible for 318 of the Cavaliers’ 327 passing attempts this season. Armstrong had five, wide receivers Hasise Dubois and Olamide Zaccheasus had one apiece and two were counted as “team” attempts. … Jordan Ellis needs 80 yards in the bowl game to become UVa’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Kevin Parks (1,031 in 2017). … The Cavaliers’ only other 1,000-yard rusher in the past 16 years was Alvin Pearman (1,037 in 2004).