UPDATE: Armstrong was inducted into the Hall on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
When Otis Armstrong came to Denver as a first-round pick in 1973, he said he was just looking to follow in fellow running back Floyd Little’s footsteps.
On Tuesday, it was announced that Armstrong has done just that, joining his former Broncos teammate in the College Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2012.
“It means a lot to me,” Armstrong said. “When you go into the College Football Hall of Fame, that’s one of the highest honors you can achieve. I’m very, very honored.”
Armstrong attended Purdue, first flashing his potential as a sophomore in 1970. He set the school season record for rushing yards with 1,009 — just the second running back in school history to top the 1,000-yard mark.
For his career, Armstrong rushed 670 times — a school record — for 3,315 yards, which ranks second in Purdue annals. He also ranked third in career kickoff return average and was one of just two players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown.
But as far as Armstrong is concerned, there’s one game that stands out above all others.
“My last game was a good game — actually it was my best game, so I kind of saved the best for last,” Armstrong said. “I won’t forget that game. I had almost 300 yards rushing and three touchdowns. It was a big day for me.”
The “big day” brought 276 rushing yards for Armstrong, which remains a school single-game record. Better yet, it came against arch-rival Indiana.
“Coach told me just to keep hitting it as hard as I could and eventually it would break,” he said. “And it did.”
He followed up that success with the Broncos, spending eight seasons in Denver where he ran for 4,453 yards and 25 touchdowns in addition to 1,302 yards and seven touchdowns through the air.
Armstrong won the NFL rushing title with 1,407 yards in 1974, leading the league with 5.3 yards per carry. He went to two Pro Bowls in his career, and was part of the Broncos’ first ever Super Bowl team in 1977.
“We were good — let me just put it like that,” Armstrong recalled. “That team, I think we were 12-2, we had a good nucleus. Our defense was good. We just had to score points on offense — the Orange Rush, as we used to call it.”
Armstrong said he still keeps up with the club.
“Once a Bronco, always a Bronco,” he said. “I stick with my team forever.”
But Tuesday’s announcement was all about Armstrong’s college career, and he couldn’t have been happier to receive the news that he was headed into the Hall of Fame.
“Actually they sent me a football and a little note,” he said, noting that he and his wife were jumping for joy. “They sent it first class, and when I opened it up I just couldn’t believe it.