National Institute on Aging

New Mexico State University Honors Its President and an Early Black Football Star

Pervis_Atkins_1383582587_articlePervis Atkins was an All-American football player at New Mexico State University. He was a member of the 1959 and 1960 teams, the last two times New Mexico State played in a postseason bowl game. In 1959, Atkins led the nation with 7.5 yards per carry, scoring, and in average yards per punt return (17.7). In 1960, New Mexico State was undefeated and beat Utah State in the Sun Bowl. Fifty-three years after he last put on a New Mexico State University uniform, he still holds several school records. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Atkins was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and played for seven years in the National Football League.

New Mexico State University retired his uniform number 27. But the number was briefly “unretired” this past Saturday so that a jersey with the number 27 could be presented to Garrey Carruthers, the 27th president of New Mexico State University. Atkins was unable to make the trip for the ceremony but was represented by his eldest daughter.

The number was unretired for the sole use of President Carruthers. “If anyone deserves to wear it, it’s President Carruthers,” Atkins said.


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