Otis Armstrong, the Denver Broncos’ first-round pick in 1973 out of Purdue, died Wednesday at the age of 70.
The running back led the NFL in rushing in his second season with 1,405 yards. Those were the days when the league played 14 games, so Armstrong averaged better than 100 yards per game on the ground in 1974.
He played his entire career with Denver. Armstrong rushed for 4,453 yards and scored 25 touchdowns. He added 7 more TDs on pass receptions.
At Purdue from 1970-72, Armstrong rushed for 3,315 yards and 17 touchdowns. He missed having 3 1,000-yard seasons by finishing with 945 yards in 1971. Those were the times when colleges played 10- or 11-game seasons.
His 276-yard performance against Indiana in 1972 remains the school’s best mark for a single-game rushing performance. Armstrong finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting that year as he rushed for 1,361 yards, and he was named a consensus All-American and the Big Ten MVP.
He ranks fourth in franchise history in rushing attempts and rushing yards, and his 1974 season represents the seventh-highest rushing total ever posted by a Bronco.
Soon after the team drafted him in 1973, then-offensive coordinator Max Coley called Armstrong “a young Floyd Little,” according to a Denver Post article. Armstrong quickly identified himself as one of the fastest players on the team.