Las Cruces, NM — At halftime of the final home men’s basketball game of the 2013-14 season, Thursday night against Grand Canyon, head football coach Doug Martin will present the first annual Pervis Atkins Spirit Award to a member of the NM State Football Program. The award was created to honor former NM State great and College Football Hall of Famer Pervis Atkins.
“I would like every single Aggie to know that Pervis Atkins and his family feel honored to know that there are athletes who continue the tradition of dedication, teamwork and good character in this current day,” Christine Atkins Carmel, Atkins’ daughter said. “Thank you for remembering to honor the qualities in athletes that make them more than just a statistic, that they too can share in a legacy that will inspire those to come in future generations.”
The award was created by Charlie Rogers, a close friend of the Atkins’ family, and his former New Mexico State teammates. The 2014 award recipient was selected by Martin and his coaching staff based on the characteristics that Atkins exemplified while he was an Aggie, including leadership and being a champion on and off the field.
“This award is very prestigious and it links us back to a very successful time in Aggie football and back to one of the most successful football players in Pervis Atkins,” Martin said. “We are privileged to be reconnected with that group of men. It also gives our players something to shoot for and something to emulate once they come here.”
The winner of this award will not necessarily be an All-American, an all-conference player or even a starter. The honoree’s teammates will know him as being persistent in his call for each of his teammates to play at their full potential while he enthusiastically participates at 110 percent. His value to the team is measured in his high-spirited presence on the practice field, on the sidelines and on the playing field. This award also recognizes, Aggies who take the field each week and represent the very best of themselves, their team and all the students at New Mexico State.
Atkins was selected to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He played for the Aggies from 1959-60 and his 9.7 second 100-yard dash led the way to his success at NM State as he was named an Associated Press First Team All-American in 1960. Atkins led the collegiate ranks in 1959 in rushing (7.5 yards per carry), as well as scoring (107 points) and punt returns (17.7 yards). His 8.1 yards per carry for a career is still a school record, along with his career punt return average (15.1) and single-season punt return average (21.8 in 1960). Atkins was a member of the Aggies’ last two bowl teams in 1959 and 1960 and was vital to the 1960 undefeated season that ended with a Sun Bowl win over Utah State, 20-13. Drafted in 1960 by the Los Angeles Rams, Atkins went on to play seven years of professional football.
Tickets are still available for Thursday night’s game and fans can call the Pan Am Ticket Office at 575-646-1420. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. in the Pan American Center.