New Mexico State University will officially "unretire" football number 27, formerly worn by Aggie great Pervis Atkins, during a Nov. 9 ceremony at Aggie Memorial Stadium during the game against Boston College. A jersey bearing the number will then be presented to NMSU President Garrey Carruthers, the university's 27th president.
"I'm honored to wear the number of one of the best football players NMSU has ever seen," Carruthers said. "I watched him play football here when I was a student, and he was a fantastic running back."
Atkins agreed to have his number 27 unretired "for the sole use of President Carruthers." Atkins is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was part of the Aggies' last two bowl teams in 1959 and 1960, and played a vital role in the 1960 undefeated season that ended with a Sun Bowl win over Utah State, 20-13. Atkins was drafted in 1960 by the Los Angeles Rams and went on to play seven years of professional football.
"If anyone deserves to wear it, it's President Carruthers," Atkins said. Because Atkins cannot travel, his oldest daughter, Christine, will be on-hand for the ceremony to officially present the number to Carruthers.
Atkins played for the Aggies from 1959-60. His impressive speed, including a 9.7-second 100-yard dash, led the way to his success at NMSU as he was named an Associated Press First Team All-American in 1960. He 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 average is still a school record, along with his career punt return average (15.1 yards) and single-season punt return average (21.8 yards in 1960).
The NMSU Foundation administers the Pervis Atkins Endowment fund, which supports summer school scholarships, recruiting, academic support and other areas associated with NMSU's Athletics Department. Anyone interested in making a donation to this fund should contact Wayne Stickney, NMSU's associate athletics director for development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 575-646-5151.