After going undrafted in the 2020 NFL Draft, former Virginia stalwarts quarterback Bryce Perkins and linebacker Jordan Mack signed contracts to join the Los Angeles Rams and Carolina Panthers, respectively. The pair join fifth-round draftees wide receiver Joe Reed and cornerback Bryce Hall in the NFL.
Bryce Perkins, Los Angeles Rams
Following a near career-ending neck injury suffered during practice at Arizona State, Perkins transferred to Arizona Western Community College, where he led the Matadors to the 2017 NJCAA National Championship game. As Virginia looked for a mobile quarterback to fit in Bronco Mendenhall’s offense, they secured a commitment from Perkins, who immediately slotted in as the Cavaliers’ starting quarterback.
In the 2018 season, Perkins formed immediate connections with Virginia’s receiving corps, passing for 2,680 yards, while delivering 25 touchdowns through the air.
Where Perkins made his athleticism felt most, however, was on the ground, as he rushed for 923 yards and nine touchdowns. What was perhaps the highlight of his 2018 season came against Louisville, where he hurdled a defender twice on his way to a 78-yard, one touchdown-rushing performance.
Despite losing a primary target in wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus leading into the 2019 season, Perkins became a more polished passer after having a year to develop a link between him and wideouts Joe Reed and Hasise Dubois. En route to second-team All-ACC honors, Perkins broke the single-season Virginia passing record with 3,538 passing yards and 22 touchdowns.
Although he was hampered by a nagging knee injury throughout the 2019 season, Perkins was still a potent dual-threat quarterback, posting 769 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. In a performance that will be remembered by Cavalier fans for years to come, he rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns against archrival Virginia Tech along with 311 passing yards and a passing touchdown.
In a hard-fought loss against Florida in the Orange Bowl, Perkins showed his skills on the national stage, displaying exceptional movement inside and outside the pocket and posting 323 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Perkins will be a dynamic threat for the Rams under center, and could feature in a two-quarterback system similar to the one implemented by the New Orleans Saints last season. He is slated to compete for a back-up role against second-year quarterback John Wolford and fellow undrafted free agent Josh Love, who started 26 games for San Jose State.
As Perkins turns the page to his next chapter of an already storied career, he will undoubtedly be known to Virginia fans as the quarterback that brought the Commonwealth Cup back to Charlottesville and catapulted the Cavaliers back onto college football’s national stage.
Jordan Mack, Carolina Panthers
Mack was an immediate starter upon arrival in Charlottesville, racking up 40 tackles and 1.5 sacks in his first year for the Cavaliers and becoming the first freshman linebacker to start in Virginia’s season opener since All-American Ahmad Brooks.
In his sophomore season, Mack became an undeniable anchor for the Cavaliers’ linebacker corps, ranking fifth in the ACC with 114 tackles. Notably, Mack made nine tackles and 1.5 sacks of Heisman Trophy-winning Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 2017 season.
Despite injury issues in the 2018 season that forced him to sit out for four games in September and October, Mack came back strong in November. The former cornerback posted three straight games with double-digit tackles, along with a strong eight-tackle, one-sack performance in a Belk Bowl victory over South Carolina.
In his final season, despite not reaching the 100-tackle mark as an ankle injury nagged him, Mack became adept at not only rushing the gaps on the run, but getting to the quarterback. He recorded a career-high 7.5 sacks to go with 69 total tackles on his way to third-team All-ACC honors, despite not playing in the Orange Bowl due to injury. In what became his marquee performance as a Cavalier, Mack made 13 tackles and one sack in Virginia’s victory over Florida State.
Mack was just as outstanding in the classroom as he was on the field. He was a two-time All-ACC Academic Team selection and one of the 12 finalists for the 2019 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded annually to a Division I FBS athlete who has “outstanding football ability as a first team player or significant contributor and [has] demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship.”
With the retirement of star linebacker Luke Kuechly, Mack has a clear opportunity to make an impact as a rookie. He is set to compete with four other undrafted linebackers for a spot on the Panthers’ roster.