Turns out, the Sun Devil doesn't fall far from the tree. At least not in the case of highly rated dual-threat quarterback commit Bryce Perkins.
The 6'2", 205-pound product of Chandler High School in Chandler, Ariz., just 20 minutes north of the Arizona State campus, will follow in his father Bruce's footsteps when he joins the football team in Tempe this upcoming fall. Before then though, he's just off his final year as a small forward for the Wolves basketball team — the program's first playoff appearance in a decade — and forewent his spring track season in order to get a jumpstart on training for the gridiron's next level.
Making the choice to continue pursuing football over his other sports at the college ranks was never much a thought for Perkins. His older brother played the sport growing up, also hoping to be just like dad, who was briefly a NFL running back with the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the early-‘90s. And despite Bryce having first discovered basketball, and then track by age 6, the pigskin's pull promptly took hold and has yet to let go.
"I've been training my whole life for it," he says of football. "It's just a total team sport. It takes everyone to be on the same page to win."
He fondly recalls an early memory of visiting his brother's practices running around with the other younger siblings in attendance and joining in their pick-up games. Bryce's already established athleticism shone through and he was faster than the others learning the game. "The next year my mom signed me up for flag football and I just fell in love."
The lessons and training methods he learned on the hardwood and from his time on the track as a sprinter — by high school specializing in the 400-meter and 300-meter hurdles — aren't lost on the three-sport athlete, but rather, now incorporated into his superior skills out on the hash-marked field. And while working with his quarterback instructor on such elements as throwing mechanics, proper footwork and correct offensive reads is beneficial, the pure foundation of each of his chosen sports remains unchanged. Whether transitioning from one sports season to the next as he's done his entire prep career or setting himself up for one day — perhaps even as early as later this year as a true freshman — leading the Sun Devils offense, conditioning is as important as ever.
"You have to have endurance," says Perkins. "Making sure that I have durability, because it's wear and tear on your body too. So just making sure that going from one sport I'm always in shape, it helps for the next sport. Especially at ASU," he adds, "because they run a fast-paced offense. If you don't have endurance, you're going to be out of the loop."
The hills he runs, bear crawls and side shuffles once a week at the local park until his legs scream mercy, 300-yard shuttles he does twice weekly with a friend, and casual, 1-mile jog around the neighborhood with his parents on Saturday mornings are all pieces to the overall puzzle. With time Perkins has learned to appreciate the process.
"It's definitely necessary," he says of running to keep in shape and stay sharp. At a younger age he wasn't terribly fond of the activity. "I hated it," he says bluntly. "But I actually grew to like it. It's great for competition, and it's great for anybody, even if you're not playing sports, to just get up and run. It'll help you with whatever you're doing."
[Photo: Paul Mason]