Wide receiver Terrell Jana finished the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl with seven catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, the latest in a series of top performances from the 6’0” 190-pound junior over Virginia football’s final six games of 2019.
Jana’s emergence as a force on the Cavalier offense began on November 3, when he hauled in 13 receptions for 146 yards in a 38-31 victory at North Carolina. He followed up the monster performance in Chapel Hill with nine catches for 108 yards against Georgia Tech, a pair of 4-catch outings versus Liberty and Virginia Tech, and six receptions for 62 yards and a score in the ACC Championship game against Clemson.
Following the loss to Florida, Jana credited Virginia star seniors Bryce Perkins, Hasise Dubois and Joe Reed with helping him ascend to another level on the field.
“Those guys, man, I think the one thing was their confidence. They’re just ballers,” Jana said. “Those guys just made plays. That’s something that the young guys coming up and I have learned from them especially. If we can fine tune what those guys left, it’s going to be an exciting time.”
A culture of hard work, determination, competitive spirit and accountability have been implemented at Virginia since Mendenhall took over following the 2015 season. UVA’s 2015 and 2016 classes have led the way in terms of establishing the Mendenhall brand of football.
“We consider ourselves a developmental program, and we take coaches and anyone that comes and hopefully can bring out the best versions of them with the right principles, and [Perkins and Dubois] are great examples of that as well as the entire senior class, which I had them walk out behind the captains,” Mendenhall said alongside Perkins and Dubois at Virginia’s Orange Bowl postgame press conference . “I don’t know how else to honor them. Anything I do doesn’t seem to be quite enough, but they’re amazing young people.”
Building a culture is one thing. Making plays and playing with confidence against better competition is important to learn as well, and the addition of Perkins in 2018 lifted the Hoos on these fronts. The dynamic signal caller’s confidence and playmaking gave confidence to the rest of the team.
The trio of Perkins, Dubois and Reed – and let’s not leave out Jana after his emergence – helped UVA football achieve a historic 2019 season that included winning the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division and earning an invitation to the prestigious Orange Bowl, two achievements that had never been done before in the program’s history.
The bigger the stage the better for Virginia’s top playmakers, who answered the call against ACC competition with the division on the line in November.
Perkins, aided by an offensive line starting to gel, totaled a school record 490 yards of offense (378 passing, 112 rushing) and amassed five touchdowns as the Hoos outscored the Heels in Chapel Hill, 38-31. Dubois contributed 97 yards receiving and a score and Reed had six catches for 55 yards, but the star receiver was the junior, Jana, who enjoyed a breakout performance with 13 receptions for 146 yards.
Perkins had 258 yards passing and a touchdown pass to Reed, as well as 106 yards rushing and a score as Virginia held off the Yellow Jackets at home, 33-28. Dubois was held without a catch for the first time all season, but Jana had nine catches for 108 yards and Reed chipped in five receptions for 27 yards and the score.
Perkins once again racked up the total offense, throwing for 311 yards while rushing for another 164. He had three touchdowns in total (1 pass, 2 rush) and was picked off one time. Dubois recorded four catches for 139 yards, Reed had five receptions for 66 yards, and Jana finished with four catches for 56 yards. Virginia beat Virginia Tech, 39-30, capturing the program’s first win over the in-state rival Hokies since 2005. It also gave the Hoos the 2019 Coastal Division title and the right to face Clemson for the ACC title.
While the ACC Championship game did not go well, Virginia still battled, and following the game the Hoos received an invite to the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl. UVA fell to Florida, 36-28, but avenged its lopsided loss to Clemson with a competitive performance against a national top 10 program. Perkins was held in check on the ground with 24 yards rushing on 14 carries, but he completed 28-of-40 passes for 323 yards with four touchdowns and one interception against the Gators. Dubois had 10 catches for 83 yards and two scores, Jana totaled seven receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown, and Reed had seven catches for 52 yards and a score.
Perkins, Dubois and Reed helped grow the culture of the Virginia program, but as Jana mentioned they also made plays on big stages, something young players can learn from when it’s their time to shine.
“There’s two principles that I endorse and believe in. First is that culture precedes performance, and the second is who first and then what, and so we worked the prior two years before Bryce came, we were working so hard on just establishing what a culture of excellence looks like and raising expectations and raising hopes and establishing belief, and it became really clear after those two years that we needed a dynamic player and person to lead our team offensively and from the quarterback position. And who would have guessed, from Arizona Western and the University of Virginia that that matches, with a coach that came from Provo, Utah, to Virginia, and now we have this relationship. Bryce is the exact person we were hopeful to have lead our program, and I’m talking person first and then player second. It was and is the perfect fit. I couldn’t have hoped for anything else. I wouldn’t have wanted anything else or anybody else. I’m just grateful.”
– Bronco Mendenhall on what Bryce Perkins’ character meant to the team
“I can’t say enough good things about him. Everyone knows what he does as a player, but I think his biggest quality is the type of person he is. It’s an honor to be beside him in the locker room every single day. Not just on Saturdays, but the Monday mornings. The type of leader he is, the type of person he is … he was an amazing addition to this team and this program.”
– Terrell Jana on Perkins
“It’s very sad. I came in the locker room, had some tears. I’ll probably have more later, but, you know, it’s been an honor and a blessing to have an opportunity to play here. I hope I left it better than I found it. I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life for the opportunity I had to come play football here.”
– Virginia senior defensive lineman Eli Hanback, who Richmond (VA) area native who grew up a Virginia fan
“It’s the best of the best, and I hope it’s the standard.”
– Hanback on UVA playing in the Orange Bowl
“Yeah, we checked to that. Good check on the play. Went up to the line of scrimmage, they were pound — they had everybody pinned inside, he checked to the pitch to the outside because they had everybody lined up inside. It was a great check by Kyle [Trask], great job by Lamical [Perine], obviously a veteran player knowing what he needed to do to get the 1st down and all those things. You’re at that moment, you have 4th-and-1, we felt comfortable, felt like we should be able to get that yard, and if not, our defense playing hard, they make plays and we’ve been aggressive all year long.”
– Florida head coach Dan Mullen on his decision to go for the first down on 4th-and-1 at the Gator 44. UVA had just cut the Florida lead to 27-21 early in the fourth quarter, so this was a huge play that could have turned the game. Florida would get the first down on the option pitch from Trask to Perine and would capitalize with a touchdown on the drive to take a 33-21 lead.
“I gained way more respect for that quarterback. I think he played an awesome game. I think he’s the real deal. Offensively I think the team is very technically sound.”
– Florida freshman cornerback Kaiir Elam on Virginia’s Bryce Perkins
“I wish we could have won the game for the seniors, so hopefully, to make sure their sacrifice hasn’t gone unnoticed, next year we’ll win these big games.”
– Jana following the loss to Florida
“Those seniors taught us so much. I learned so much from those guys. The culture they’ve set has been steadfast. It’s the foundation of what we’ve done to get here.”
– Jana on the fourth and fifth-year “pioneers” of the Virginia program
“First thing we’re going to do is get in the weight room. We’re going to get conditioned, going to go through winter workouts, spring ball, and it’s just going to be a different type of UVA football next year, I believe. A lot of people leaving, so a lot of places need to step up, a lot of leadership. So I think we’ll be good.”
– Sophomore outside linebacker Noah Taylor on the next step for UVA
– The 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl was Virginia’s 21st all-time bowl appearance. UVA drops to 0-4 all-time in bowl games played in Miami. The Hoos lost to Boston College in 1994 (Carquest Bowl), Miami in 1996 (Carquest), Illinois in the MicronPC.com, and now Florida in the Orange.
– Virginia has reached three consecutive bowl games for first time since 2002-05. UVA reached a bowl game in four straight seasons twice before. Never has the program earned a postseason bowl berth five straight times.
– The 1989 team remains the only team in UVA football history to win 10 games in a season.
– Bryce Perkins’ career total offense mark of 7,910 yards eclipsed Shawn Moore’s previous school record of 7,897.
– Perkins holds the UVA career bowl record for touchdown passes with seven.
– Hasise Dubois had 1,062 yards receiving as a senior. He becomes the fourth receiver in UVA history to total over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season.
– Virginia had never had multiple receivers with 70+ receptions in a season before this season. Dubois, Reed and Jana each finished with over 70 catches.
– Joe Reed concludes his stellar Virginia career with 4,679 all-purpose yards, good for fifth all-time in school history. The Charlotte Court House (VA) native surpassed Terry Kirby, who had 4,637 yards, with 98 all-purpose yards against Florida.
– Eli Hanback is the only Cavalier to play in every game of Mendenhall’s first four seasons at Virginia.