NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Search News Center Articles

Former NMSU football player first Pervis Atkins Award recipient

For the majority of student-athletes around the country, participating in intercollegiate athletics is a dream come true, and for most who step foot onto a college campus, those dreams start by receiving an athletic scholarship.

Three men standing with one in the middle holding a plaque
From left: Former Aggie football player and Hall of Fame great Charley Johnson, former NMSU football player Davis Cazares and NMSU head coach Doug Martin pose with the Pervis Atkins Spirit Award. Cazares received the award during a ceremony on March 6. It was created to recognize the NMSU football player who has positively contributed the most to and for his team. (Courtesy photo)

The path that former New Mexico State University football player Davis Cazares took, however, was much different. Cazares, a native of Monrovia, Calif., first had to earn a spot on the team, which he did in 2010. By the end of his senior season in 2013, he had elevated himself to a team captain, a team leader and an all-conference player.

?It was tough trying to find my way onto the field coming in as a walk-on,? Cazares said. ?Through hard work, I was given the opportunity to play and was then able to show the coaches that I could play here at a high level. Out of high school, I received a few Division III offers but not Division I offers. Coach Mike Rutenburg offered me a chance to walk-on here and I took the opportunity. I knew I wanted to play Division I football and New Mexico State University gave me that chance.?

For his accomplishments, not only on the field but also in the classroom and inside the locker room, Cazares was named the 2014 Pervis Atkins Spirit Award recipient during a ceremony on March 6. The award was created to recognize the one NMSU football player who has positively contributed the most to and for his team.

?I feel very blessed and honored to receive the first annual Pervis Atkins Spirit Award,? Cazares said. ?To have my name placed on the plaque, means I left my mark on this program and that?s a good feeling. To be recognized by my coaches and my teammates as a leader of this football team is an awesome feeling. It?s also a great feeling to know that I earned this award through hard work both on and off the field.?

Cazares is the first recipient of the award that was created to honor former NMSU football great and College Football Hall of Famer Pervis Atkins.

?Pervis Atkins was an all-time great here at New Mexico State University,? Cazares said. ?As far as I?m concerned, he is the greatest Aggie football player to put on the Crimson & White.?

The winner of this award is not necessarily an All-American, an all-conference player or even a starter. The honoree?s teammates know him as being persistent in his call for each of his teammates to play at their full potential, while he enthusiastically participates at 110 percent. The award winner is selected based on his value to the team as measured in his high-spirited presence on the practice field, on the sidelines and on the playing field. This award also recognizes Aggies who take the field each week and represent the very best of themselves, their team and all the students at the university.

The award was created by Charlie Rogers, a close friend of the Atkins family, and his former NMSU teammates. The 2014 award recipient was selected by Head Coach Doug Martin and his coaching staff and was selected based on the characteristics that Atkins exemplified while he was an Aggie. Those characteristics included leadership and being a champion on and off the field.

?This award is very prestigious and it links us back to a very successful time in Aggie football and back to one of the most successful football players in Pervis Atkins,? Martin said. ?We are privileged to be reconnected with that group of men. It also gives our players something to shoot for and something to emulate once they come here.?

?During his time at New Mexico State University, Davis Cazares exemplified a true student-athlete, a leader and a good teammate,? Martin said. ?He is a true example of what hard work and dedication can achieve. We are proud of his accomplishments and happy to honor him as the first annual Pervis Atkins Spirit Award winner.?

Martin explained Cazares made a difference through his dedication to others, his leadership and his enthusiasm towards everyone around him.

In 2013, Cazares was named a Burlsworth Trophy finalist. The Burlsworth Trophy is awarded to a collegiate football player that started his career as a walk-on. He was named an All-Independent football team pick in 2013. Cazares led the Aggies in tackles for the second-straight season in 2013 with 109, ranking him in the top 10 in the country in total tackles. He also led the team with two interceptions.

Cazares ended his career in the Crimson and White with 245 total tackles, six tackles for a loss, six pass break-ups, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick. He also earned two player-of-the-week awards. He led his team in tackles in both his junior and senior year.

As a junior in 2012, he led the WAC with 9.7 tackles per game and was ranked 27th nationally. For his efforts on the season, Cazares was selected to the All-WAC second team. He recorded 116 total tackles, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, one pass break-up and one blocked kick on the season.

While on the Aggie football squad, Cazares was considered a vital member of the secondary and special teams during his first two seasons before becoming a team leader during his final two seasons.

Cazares is on track to earn a degree in business management but hopes that his playing days aren?t quiet over.

?I want to have a chance to continue to play football somewhere, either the NFL or Canada or anywhere. But after football is done I want to be a part of a major company where I can use my leadership skills. I also want to start a family and be a dad,? he said.