ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Even at age 73, Pervis Atkins keeps blazing trails for New Mexico State football.
Atkins is the first Aggie elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. The National Football Foundation (NFF) announced the latest class of 16 players and one coach Thursday in New York.
“What a great honor,” said Aggie athletics director McKinley Boston. “It’s usually saved for the ‘haves,’ the BCS schools. Now we get to celebrate one of NMSU’s greatest athletes on a national stage.”
Boston, a former NFF board member, has known of Atkins’ election for a week. He had difficulty keeping it quiet, but finally called the honoree Wednesday, a day before the news broke.
“He was thrilled,” said Boston. “He’s a funny guy anyway, and he kept saying, `Now let me repeat this to make sure I understand.’”
Atkins and the rest of this class will be inducted on Dec. 8 in New York. They will be enshrined next year at the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.
He came from his native Oakland, Calif., and a stint in the Marines to Las Cruces and led the nation in rushing, scoring and punt returns in 1959. He became the Aggies’ initial first-team Associated Press All-American, in 1960, when NMSU went 11-0.
In those two years, he helped NMSU to unprecedented and heretofore unmatched success, including their only two bowl games, Sun Bowl victories in 1959 and 1960.
Atkins also was nominated last year. Even then, he told the Journal he was floored to be even considered, thinking the memories of his athletic exploits had faded like the yellow of old clippings.
“Totally, totally it blew my hat off my head,” Atkins said last June. “I said, “Somebody’s b.s-ing me down the road.’”
This time, Pervis need not be nervous.
To be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration, players had to make one of the major All-American teams, play more than 10 and no more than 50 years ago, and not currently be playing pro football.