Pete's Ponderings-September 22
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  09/22/2008

The weekend to give praise and honor to a trio of Aggie football greats is upon us. The Legends weekend for NMSU football will see Pervis Atkins, Walt Williams and Denvis Manns receive NMSU’s highest honor for gridiron play.


Atkins was an all purpose back who starred not only at NMSU but in the NFL as well. He traveled with college mate Danny Villanueva to the Los Angeles Rams in 1961 to play for pay at the top level of the sport. Atkins was not only a dangerous running back, rushing for 237 yard against New Mexico in 1959, but he could also kick placements and was an all around scoring threat. He will be reunited this weekend with his quarterback and fellow halfback from the bowl year teams of 1959 and 1960. Dr. Charley Johnson is already in the Ring of Honor and Bob Gaiters will return to share in the memories and the acclaim that is coming to Atkins. 


Williams was such a dominant force in the defensive secondary that he was selected for inclusion in the Ring of Honor with only two years on the field for the Aggies. A junior college transfer, Williams was the definition of a stopper when the other team tried to move the ball down his side of the field. Like Atkins, Williams starred first for the Detroit Lions and then the Chicago Bears in the NFL. His post-NFL career has led him to the restaurant business in Dallas where he is a success in the kitchen too.


The third inductee was the third man in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in every year he played Division I football. Manns was a late signee for head coach Jim Hess out of Lufkin, Texas, but proved to be the most valuable player Hess ever had in Las Cruces. Denvis ran hard on bad ankles and he thrived in an offense that relied on the pass not the run and through it all, gained more than 1,000 yards every year. Manns remained humble, first to praise his offensive blockers and our Creator for blessing him with athletic ability. He earned his degree in four years and is now is the high school coach at Los Lunas. Ole Pete remembers a game versus Pacific when the Aggies needed a first down to keep the ball out of the Tigers hands late in the game. Manns hurdled a Pacific tackler en route to a long gain on third down that wound up preserving the win.


It will be great to get all of the Aggies back this weekend around the campfire. These Legends weekend are vital to our Aggie heritage, so borrow a phrase from another great Aggie Bill Stephens, these weekends are, “so the future will know,” about NMSU’s tradition.

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