ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -- This Sunday at Roanoke's Sports Haven memorabilia shop was supposed to look a little different.
"We were gonna' have cornhole out here, kettle corn, more tents than what we have out here," said part-owner Christy Bennett. "People were welcome to bring their chairs and sit down and hang out for a while. It was going to be a totally different atmosphere."
Instead, the party was replaced with Purell, among other precautions intended to keep people safe while waiting to meet former UVA star Bryce Perkins.
"Today's priority is to follow protocol," Bennett said. "Typically, it would be customer experience, but because of the situation going on in our world today, we can't be focusing on customer experience as much as protocol."
Scheduled arrival times, off-duty police oversight and an overall commitment to cleanliness was enough for Perkins to follow through with the event.
"These guys, the fans, are the ones who support you through the good and bad. They see good years, see bad years and there's not many times that you can interact with fans like that, being a football player," the former Wahoos quarterback said. "I thought it was a good time, even with everything going on. I'm well-accommodated with everything to make sure it's all sanitized and safe, so I said yeah, I'm gonna' come out and show love to people who have shown love to me."
But the coronavirus outbreak isn't just impacting signing sessions. The NFL-hopeful is having to find new ways to show prospective teams what he's capable of on a football field.
"We were supposed to have pro days. Those got canceled," Perkins said. "Training, the gyms being closed, it's been hard, but I'm making do. Finding a new way to get a workout in and guys around me who are impacted the same kind of band together and try to figure out different ways that we can be effective and achieve our goal and get ready for our goal."
Perkins says social media can be a saving grace when face-to-face isn't an option.
Some on Twitter have described his stellar performance against Virginia Tech as an effective example of social distancing.
in case you’re struggling to understand what social distancing means, i thought i would include a picture that shows a good example. remember: six feet apart! pic.twitter.com/tFwhkHIy3x— Campbell Thompson (@campbell_t7) March 21, 2020
Perkins, though, has used the platform to show off some drills in his home state of Arizona, with the caption, "no pro day, no problem."
No pro day, no problem still preppin for the draft! pic.twitter.com/l8HaLc61Pa— B Perk (@3_ToDaNeck) March 21, 2020
"With no in-person visits or interviews, social media is a wide place and it can reach so many people that you don't even know," he said. "That could reach some scouts, some GMs. It could reach whoever, so the more you can market yourself on social media is the best you can do right now, especially during this time."
Perkins arrived back in Virginia this weekend and plans to train in Charlottesville over the next two weeks. The NFL Draft is currently scheduled for April 23-25.
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