Bryce Perkins off to an impressive start for ASUPosted: Updated:
He had just wrapped up his first collegiate practice. While the quarterback position naturally draws significant attention, there was some extra focus on this particular debut.
His on-field exploits at nearby Chandler High School had created immense buzz about his potential. Was he really that good? Could he live up to the hype?
But first things first. Bryce Perkins had some butterflies to overcome.
"At first, I was all jittery. It was new. I was anxious,” said Perkins. “I was excited, but overall, it was pretty good. I still have some things to work on. I'm going to go to the film room and come back with a better performance."
Despite the nerves, Perkins impressed during that first practice, and he continues to be one of the standout newcomers during the early weeks of ASU’s fall camp. As he works to make a name for himself, he’s also carrying on a family legacy.
Perkins is the second generation of his family to don the maroon and gold, as his father Bruce was an ASU running back in 1988 and 1989. While following in a father’s footsteps can be daunting, Perkins doesn’t see it as a burden.
"It's great, my dad was excited,” Perkins said of his decision to play at ASU. “He did some big things, and I have some shoes to fill, but I think I am ready for it."
Another factor in Perkins’ decision to attend ASU—over offers from UCLA (where his brother Paul is the team's starting running back), Northwestern, and Arizona—was the chance to become a “hometown hero”. Keeping more of the state’s top high school talent home has been a primary focus of head coach Todd Graham and his staff, and landing Perkins represented a key victory in those efforts.
“It's definitely a good feeling for anyone to come play for their hometown with their support system,” Perkins said. “That played a big factor, but also the coaches did a great job. I've got a good relationship with Coach (Mike) Norvell. It was the total package.”
Any freshman making the leap to major college football experiences a steep learning curve, and that's a task made steeper for quarterbacks. As he adjusts to the speed and demands of the position at the college level, Perkins feels his grasp of the playbook is coming along well.
"There's way more film study than in high school. There's more reads, and the pace is much faster,” Perkins said. “Our Day 1 install, I think I had a pretty good grasp of it (the playbook). I limited errors, but I can always do better. I can always do more. I'm not finished yet."
Helping him along is about as good a mentor as there is in the Pac-12: Mike Bercovici.
"I just sit back and watch him, sit back and watch how he handles everybody,” Perkins said of ASU's senior quarterback. “His intensity, his poise. He has a cannon. Watching him and learning from him will set me up better for the future."
With ASU’s preseason camp now in its second week, Perkins remains firmly in the mix to win the backup quarterback job, battling fellow true freshman Brady White and redshirt freshman Manny Wilkins. Perkins entered the race at a disadvantage in the experience department, with Wilkins in his second year in the system and White having participated in spring practices as a mid-year enrollee.
Yet despite the crowded depth chart, Perkins feels that competing against those talented players will pay off now, and more importantly, in the much anticipated battle to replace Berocvici in 2016.
"Competition is good for everybody,” Perkins said. It pushes me, it pushes the other guys, it pushes Berco. Down the road, competing with these guys, it's going to be fun."
When he is out on the field, Perkins’ talent is readily apparent.
He looks the part of a starting quarterback, cutting an imposing 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame. Even at that size, Perkins is a dangerous runner. Yet while many may see his speed and quickness in the open field and label Perkins merely a scrambler, Perkins has greatly improved his passing from within the pocket. Last season at Chandler, he completed nearly 75 percent of his passes for 46 touchdowns against just six interceptions.
"If plays break down, I can make things happen,” Perkins said. “With my arm, over the summer, with my training, I think I've been doing a great job in becoming more of a pocket passer. Both of those are deadly weapons."
With Bercovici entrenched as the starter for his senior year, it may be a while before ASU fans are able to see those weapons in action, and that's just fine with Perkins.
"It would be best for me to learn behind Berco," Perkins said of his goals for 2015. "Make sure I'm calm, because a lot of the guys coming from high school are the stars, so they don't really know how to sit back and watch and be the backup for a while. So I need to sit back and learn behind Berco."
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