Bryce Perkins has been so accommodating in his two years at Virginia that it was hard to believe that he didn’t speak to the media prior to the Cavaliers’ football showdown with Virginia Tech.
He also didn’t talk with reporters following a Nov. 23 game with Liberty, but that was seen as a concession from the sports information office for a player who unfailingly had made himself available.
Turns out, there was more to that story.
Perkins didn’t talk following the Liberty game because he couldn’t talk. He had been stricken with tonsillitis.
So, how was he able to manage on-field affairs? He came out of the game with five minutes remaining in the Cavaliers’ 55-27 win over the Flames; then he went the distance in a 39-30 win over Virginia Tech, ending the Cavaliers’ 15-game losing streak against the Hokies.
He could barely speak when he took the field Nov. 23 against Liberty.
“It was really bad Saturday morning,” Perkins said of the Liberty game. “During walk-throughs, I couldn’t even call the plays. I had to have one of our other quarterbacks, Lindell Stone, call the plays. I would just clap my hands for the snap.
“During the second half, it kind of got worse. I gave our center [Victor Oluwatimi] the call sheet. I gave him an extra wristband that had the calls on it, so, if I got really bad, he was the one that was going to call the plays to the group.
“It was pretty bad. After the game, I couldn’t put a full sentence together without choking on my words.”
Perkins was five minutes into a postgame interview following the Tech game when he was encouraged to tell the story of his week.
He was aware that he had tonsillitis on the day of the Liberty game and left for the hospital after the game, staying overnight as he received antibiotics.
“On Monday, I went back to the doctor because my tonsils were really swollen and I couldn’t talk,” he said Friday. “They had to pull puss from my tonsils, and I was awake through all of it. They were amazed that I was able to play on Saturday.”
He didn’t just take the field the following Friday against Virginia Tech. On an afternoon when Virginia had 492 yards in total offense, he passed for 311 yards and rushed for 164 yards. He had two rushing touchdowns and one passing TD.
“The sports-medicine team, the doctors and everybody in this facility were working overnight just to get me back on my feet,” said Perkins, who missed Monday’s practice leading up to the Virginia Tech game.
“As long as I could walk, I was going to play. I was just feeling miserable in the game against Liberty.”
It’s been that way for Perkins since his early days at Arizona State, where he sustained a break in his neck that led to him moving on to two-year Arizona Western, where he was the quarterback on the runner-up team for the national junior college championship in 2017.
“He plays with an incredible will to win,” said Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, whose Tigers won the ACC’s Atlantic Division championship and will meet UVa at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the conference title game at Bank of America Stadium.
“He’s one of those guys that makes everybody around him better. He’s a great young man and a great leader. That just doesn’t happen. It’s kind of, as he goes, they go.”