New Mexico State head football coach Doug Martin named Malik Demby and Ron LaForce as the winners of the fourth annual Pervis Atkins Spirit Award on Thursday. The award was created to honor former NM State great and College Football Hall of Famer Pervis Atkins, who played for the 1960 undefeated Aggies.
This award was created by Charlie Rogers, a close friend of the Atkins' family, and his former New Mexico State teammates. The 2017 award recipients were 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.
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).
The versatile running back 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.
NM State is set to end the 57-year bowl drought and take on Utah State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 29 at 3:30 p.m. MT in Tucson, Ariz.