ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Former UNM and Dallas Cowboys great, Don Perkins has died at the age of 84.

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Perkins played football for the University of New Mexico in the late 1950s as a two-way player. During his time with the Lobos, Perkins was a three time All-Skyline selection and received All-American honors in 1959. He led the nation in kickoff returns in 1958 and ranks 14th on the all-time UNM rushing list with 2,001 yards. Perkins’ number 43 is retired by UNM.

“I am just proud to have known him and him being a great Lobo, its really cool that he played and was a great player here, and then got to become a well known great player in the NFL,” UNM football coach Danny Gonzales said. “I am proud of that and I am constantly reminding our guys of the great ones that have came through here.”

After graduating from UNM in 1959, Perkins went on to make a name for himself in the NFL with the then expansion team, Dallas Cowboys. Some believe he was a big reason for Dallas’ success early on.

“I think it really did wonders for the Dallas Cowboys in this area, as they began as a new franchise in the NFL,” said college roommate and teammate Chuck Roberts.

Perkins went on to make an immediate impact in Dallas, rushing for 815 yards and four touchdowns en route to rookie of the year and Pro Bowl honors in 1961. He continued to excel with the Cowboys over his eight years with the team, and was a six time pro bowler and three time All-Pro selection. Perkins finished his career with 6,217 rushing yards which ranks fourth all time in Cowboys history. He was inducted into the Cowboys ring of honor in 1976.