The Two Bryces talk training, getting ready for NFL Draft

It’s hard enough for prospects to get good time in front of front-office execs ahead of the April NFL Draft in a normal year, but the COVID-19 outbreak has complicated things exponentially for UVA’s Two Bryces.

Bryce Hall, a projected first-round cornerback, was already behind the eight-ball, as he has been recovering from a broken fibula and dislocated ankle suffered in October.

Quarterback Bryce Perkins, a Day 3 pick on some draft boards, didn’t get the chance to showcase himself at the NFL Combine, and now won’t get opportunities at pro days to show what he can do.

Perkins was going to take part in two pro days – at UVA and at Arizona State, where he started his college career.

How will that impact his draft prospects?

“Any time I get a chance to get multiple eyes on me, in two different settings, one at UVA, one at ASU, it was going to be huge,” Perkins said Tuesday.

Perkins has had to get creative to account for the lost opportunities. When he was back out west training for his pro days, he had a friend filming his workouts at Chandler High School, where he threw for 5,532 yards and 70 touchdowns, and the school’s first state championship in 65 years.

The 6’3”, 215-pounder is back in Charlottesville now, again forced to be creative, the challenge being to keep himself in shape with gyms closed due to COVID-19.

Hall is facing a similar dilemma in that respect, currently in Pensacola, Fla., where he’s been working out for several weeks to get himself ready for the draft.

He said Tuesday that he should be 100 percent physically by training camp, and that within the past couple of weeks he’s seen a lot of progress, “just in terms of me being able to start being able to do some running, some cutting, some jumping stuff.”

“Lately, that’s been encouraging,” Hall said. “Once I started running and cutting, then it’s just becoming more about getting used to the feeling, and getting used to moving again.”

His pre-draft schedule was going to be more meeting-focused anyway, and before the coronavirus shutdown, he was able to meet with coaches and execs from several NFL teams, get-to-know-me-type encounters where the team officials can become familiar with Hall personally and quiz him on his football knowledge.

His sales pitch was always going to be his film – “at the end of the day, the film speaks most,” Hall said.

He’ll be heading back to Charlottesville next week to continue his training.

Hall said it would have been a “game-time decision” as to whether he would have been a go for Virginia’s now-shuttered April 8 Pro Day.

Now, like Perkins, he’s had to come up with a makeshift training regimen to keep himself on track.

In the meantime, he’s trying to make the best of the situation.

“One of the things this has allowed us to do more is to have more time, and I’ve been able to just invest in myself,” said Hall, who likes to watch motivational clips online.

“I’ve been doing things like that, things to feed my mind, keeping in touch with the family, trying to stay positive,” Hall said.

Perkins has been on that track since the Combine snub.

“I wanted to train even harder. That following week, it was like I was training for the Super Bowl. I just got in that mindset of, you know, playing with a chip on my shoulder, practicing and preparing with that chip on my shoulder. Because I know I’m going to get my shot, and when I do, I’m going to take it,” Perkins said.

Both have come a long way since arriving on Grounds to get themselves into position for jobs in the NFL. Hall was a two-star recruit out of high school; Perkins suffered a potentially career-threatening injury at Arizona State before transferring to a junior college and ultimately winding up at UVA.

Hall, in the here and now, is “just focusing on what I can control.”

“All that other stuff is out of my hands,” he said.

Perkins was asked a question about his college arc that forced introspection.

“Every step, from ASU to JUCO, and from JUCO to UVA, it made me better as a person, as a player,” Perkins said. “I got smarter. Every step, I made it a point of emphasis to learn something new and gain a different insight from each place. From last year to this year, especially, I think I’ve grown the most as a player, and I started to become that player that NFL teams want their quarterback to be, especially now with all the mobile quarterbacks coming in and having success.”

Story by Chris Graham

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