CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Ask teammates about how Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins has impacted the Cavaliers this season, and they just start shaking their heads.
"Shoooh, significantly," UVA cornerback Bryce Hall replied with a deep exhale. "He's a dynamic athlete. He's a good leader. He's a good person. The way he plays is infectious to the whole team, and gives us energy. His contribution this year has been huge."
"That first game, Richmond, and ensuing weeks after that, just amazing play after amazing play. He's really sort of propelled this offense and this team," said tight end Evan Butts. "He's a gift to have on this team, not just as a player but as a leader and a person as well."
Perkins arrived at UVA from an Arizona junior college in January. By the end of the regular season in November, the junior had set new UVA single-season records for both yards of total offense (3,314) and total touchdowns (31). An All-ACC honorable mention selection, Perkins finished third in the league in passing efficiency (146.3) and completion percentage (63.8), tied for third in touchdown passes (22) and sixth in passing yards (2,472).
Perkins also ran for 842 yards, which ranks 10th in the ACC and second among league quarterbacks. His nine rushing touchdowns were tied for eighth in the conference, and matched running back Jordan Ellis for most on the Cavaliers.
Last week, Perkins was named one of three finalists for this year's Dudley Award, given by the Touchdown Club of Richmond to the top Division I football player in the state. Virginia Tech defensive lineman and James Madison cornerback Jimmy Moreland are the other finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday night.
Perkins limped to the finish of his first regular season at UVA following an ankle injury suffered early in the Cavaliers' overtime loss at Georgia Tech. He played the rest of that game and the following week's overtime loss at Virginia Tech at less than 100 percent.
Perkins has spent the past two weeks rehabbing the ankle, and says he's "definitely closer (to 100 percent)" as the Cavaliers prepare to face South Carolina in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte on December 29. Asked about his impact on the Wahoos this season, Perkins pointed to his ability to extend plays and sustain drives by getting the ball to the offense's other playmakers.
"Just how we fought as a team,' Perkins said. "We definitely showed strides as far as toughness and resiliency, and the ability to keep going, keep fighting to the end every game."
UVA coach Bronco Mendenhall believes Perkins surpassed the coaching staff's expectations in his first season with the Wahoos.
"A winning season, and a chance to win eight, and our second consecutive bowl game. I don't think any of those happen without the way Bryce played this year," Mendenhall said. "Bryce has been more consistent, certainly more efficient. Throwing the football has exceeded my expectations. And just his leadership."