(Photo: VirginiaSports.com)

The excitement surrounding new Virginia starting quarterback Bryce Perkins continues to rise. It started from the day he committed. His UVA teammates were impressed immediately as well.

Senior outside linebacker Chris Peace thought Perkins was a new addition to the linebacker meeting room.

“My impression when I first saw him was that this is guy pretty big,” said Peace. “I thought he was a Will or Sam linebacker, but he’s really dynamic.”

Senior H-back Olamide Zaccheaus said he knew Perkins was different the first time he saw him in the weight room.

“The first day in the weight room in the winter,” said Zacchaeus. “It was power cleans and he was putting up some serious weight. He was really getting up there, so I was like ‘okay, he’s little different than a regular guy."

Bronco Mendenhall talked about the former Arizona State signal caller’s quick transition to team leader at ACC Kickoff.

“Bryce's leadership level, what I have most appreciated as he came in not being the guy but wanting to be part of the team and do everything possible to show that he was willing to follow rules, to possibly -- to be in the background and let his actions talk before his words,” said Mendenhall. “And then over time as his actions and his work ethic showed and as the team started to identify this is going to be our quarterback, then he appropriately and kind of reflecting maturity started to then lead in a more visible way. And he's going to have to. Even though he'll be our starting quarterback for the first time, what the requirement will be is it will -- for us to succeed, it will have to be as if he's been our starter longer than that. And he knows that. But I think his work ethic will allow that.”

Peace and Zaccheaus echoed their head coach’s view of Perkins from a leadership perspective.

“He was really laid back when he first came,” said Peace. “I think he knew that he had to step up for us to push forward. Now, it seems like he’s been with us for a year or two. You can’t really tell that he’s new or not. He’s definitely filling in that [leadership] role nicely.

“He’s a pretty cool guy,” said Zaccheus. “He’s personable. He knows how to talk to people. He works. That’s the biggest thing. If came in here and he wasn’t driven or motivated internally, it would be a harder transition but those are things that he does day-in and day-out. He’s not afraid to take control of the team and speak up, even though he’s only been here for a couple months, so it’s huge for us to see that he’s progressing faster than we might have expected.”

Perkins, the player, is going to be tough for defenses to get a hand on according to Peace.

“Throughout the spring, although I didn’t play much (hamstring injury), but in the practices I did, that guy’s going to be hard to sack, going to be hard to get a hand on,” said Peace. “He’s dynamic. He extends plays with his legs. It’s going to be a new threat to other teams.”

Zaccheaus feels that Perkins is someone that every defense will have to account for.

“It puts stress on the defense,” said Zaccheaus of Perkins’ ability. “That’s a guy that you have to account for or he’s going to take it 80-yards. He’s just as athletic as anybody in the ACC, I would say and he brings a whole different dynamic that you have to account for as a defense or you will get burned.”

While Bronco Mendenhall echoed many of the same points that his players did on the 6-foot-3, 215-pound quarterback, he pointed to one thing that will ultimately decide Perkins’ performance in 2018.

"He's one of the strongest and fastest and best athletes that I've coached,” said the UVA head coach. “There isn't a play where when if he's running the football, it can't go all the way. He can throw the ball effectively, and I think he's a solid decision maker.

“And so to me, point number three, if the decision making maturity increases at a faster rate or an accelerated rate, there could be pretty remarkable things happen in his tenure at UVA. But I think that will control it, not the physical skills. I think the leadership and playing ACC football and the decision making at that position, that will, I think, determine his potential or the result.”