Otis Armstrong burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 1970. He set the Purdue season record for rushing yards with 1,009 and became just the second running back in school history to top the 1,000-yard mark, following Leroy Keyes in 1968.
Following superb sophomore and junior campaigns, Armstrong had a senior season to remember. He set single-season school records in rushing attempts (243) and rushing yards (1,361) in 1972 and was named a consensus first team All-America. He posted five 100-yard rushing games that season, including 233 yards vs. Northwestern on Oct. 21 and 276 yards vs. Indiana on Nov. 25 in the final game of his career. Armstrong's monster game against Indiana remains the highest rushing mark in school history.
Blessed with track speed, Armstrong was a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He scored five career touchdowns of 70-plus yards (three rushing, two kickoff returns). In 1972, Armstrong returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown at Minnesota on Oct. 14 and had an 89-yard kickoff return for a score vs. Wisconsin on Nov. 11.
Armstrong still holds the career school record for rushing attempts (670) and ranks second in career rushing yards (3,315). He also is third in career kickoff return average (24.9), and is one of just two players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (along with Stan Brown).
Following his collegiate career, the Denver Broncos selected Armstrong with the ninth-overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. After spending his rookie year as a reserve, Armstrong became a sensation in 1974, winning the NFL rushing title with 1,407 yards and leading the league with an impressive 5.3 yards-per-carry average. He also was a threat in the passing game, catching 38 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns.
An injury shelved Armstrong for most of the 1975 season, and although he would remain a productive back for the rest of his career, he never reproduced the lofty numbers attained in 1974. In eight NFL seasons, all with the Broncos, Armstrong ran for 4,453 yards on 1,023 carries (4.4 average) and 25 touchdowns and caught 131 passes for 1,302 yards and seven scores.
Armstrong's Purdue Statistics