Syracuse Football Top 25 Players of All-Time: No. 4 Floyd Little

Syracuse football, Floyd Little (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images)
Syracuse football, Floyd Little (Photo by Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images) /

Syracuse Football has had a long history of success. We look back at some of the best players to play at Syracuse University. Up next, No. 4: Floyd Little.

Syracuse Football has had some amazing running backs in its long storied history, many of whom have worn the fabled No. 44 jersey. Floyd Little, who is next on our list, was one of those legendary players to wear #44 for Syracuse Football.

Though other greats such as Jim Brown and Ernie Davis had come before him, Little was a star in his own right. He brought a different kind of energy and style to the running back position from 1964-1966. Like his predecessors he still ground out yards between the tackles, but was more known for keeping plays alive with his extraordinary balance.

In his first year playing as a sophomore in 1964, Little quickly burst onto the scene with 157 carries for 874 yards (5.6 yard average) and nine touchdowns to pair with a team leading 17 receptions for 257 yards (15.5 yard average) and one touchdown, according to He also completed four of six passes for 17 yards, one of which was for a touchdown. As a result of his great play, he was named an All-American, Sophomore of Year in the East, as received All-East honors at years end, according to

His rushing totals that year broke both Jim Brown’s and Ernie Davis’s sophomore marks, which is saying something! His best game was probably against Kansas at home when he outdueled legend Gale Sayers, rushing 16 times for 159 yards and five touchdowns, according to, which still ranks second all-time for most in a game at SU.

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In 1965, Little’s junior year, he rushed the ball even more, despite sharing the ball with fellow back Larry Csonka, also previously on this list. He would be given the rock 193 times and accumulate 1,065 yards on the ground (5.5 average) and 14 touchdowns. Doing so, he became the first Syracuse running back to ever eclipse over 1,000+ yards in a single season, as well as 2,000+ all-purpose yards in a single season, according to He would also lead the team in receptions again with 21 to the tune of 248 yards (11.8 average) and one touchdown.

Little also had multiple games with long punt and kick returns that season:

  • 95-yard punt return against Pittsburgh (SU single-game record)
  • 85-yard kickoff return against Holy Cross
  • 72-yard punt returns against Maryland
  • 69-yard punt return against Penn State

Little led the nation with 19 total touchdowns that year and was second in the nation in points scored with 114. His performance in 1965 helped fuel Little to finish 5th in the Heisman voting that year and was named to the All-American team once again for a second consecutive season.

In his last season with Syracuse Football in 1966, Little had yet another stellar year despite splitting time with future Orange legend Larry Csonka once again. He had 162 carries for 811 yards (5.0 average) with 12 rushing touchdowns and paired that with 13 receptions for 186 yards (6.6 average) and two touchdowns, and one punt return for a touchdown. He was once again named an All-American selection for a third consecutive year, as well as the ECAC Player of the Year. Csonka would also once again finish 5th overall in the Heisman voting though.

In his time with the Orangemen, Little set multiple Syracuse Football records (courtesy of

  • 46 total career touchdowns (1st)
  • 95 yard punt return against Pittsburgh (1st)
  • Five punt returns for touchdowns- Career (1st)
  • 35 rushing touchdowns– Career (2nd)
  • Five touchdowns vs. Kansas– 1964 (2nd)
  • 14 touchdowns– 1965 (3rd)
  • 90.1 yards per game- Career (3rd)
  • 13- 100 yard games- Career (4th)
  • Four touchdowns vs. West Virginia- 1965 (4th)
  • 5.37 yards per carry- Career (6th)
  • 2,704 yards rushing- Career (6th)
  • 106.5 yards per game- 1965 (6th)
  • 216 yards gained: Tennessee- 1966 (T-6th)
  • 12 touchdowns -1966 (T-7th)
  • 504 carries- Career (9th)
  • 1,065 yards- 1965 (10th)
  • 5- 100 yard games- 1965 & 1966 (T-10th)

Little, after his career at Syracuse, was selected with the sixth overall pick in the first round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, according to He would go on to play nine seasons in the NFL, rushing 1,641 times for 6,323 yards, and 43 rushing touchdowns. He also had 215 receptions for 2,418 yards and nine touchdowns to pair with two rushing touchdowns on punt returns.

In addition, Little also was first in the AFL in All-Purpose yards in 1967 & 1968, and would be named an All-Pro in 1969. In 1970, he led the NFL in rushing with 1,133 yards and became the Bronco’s first 1,000-yard rusher, according to A few years later in 1973, he also led the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 12.

In other words, Little did not shy away from being among the best in the sport while he played professionally. To this day he still sits second all-time in rushing yards for the Bronco’s organization. Overall, Little ended up being selected to five Pro Bowls and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

Little more than earned his spot on this list. It’s hard to say if Ernie Davis had had a pro career whether or not he would be higher or lower than Little on this list. Both were outstanding athletes and even better men off the field. Based on the fact that Davis won the Heisman Trophy though gave him a slight edge on our list.

Next. Syracuse football will always maintain ‘RB-U’ crown. dark

That shouldn’t take away from what was an outstanding career from one of the best running backs ever to play football. The fact that Little sits fourth is not an insult, it’s a tribute to how amazing he was. In Little’s case, his last name was just a name, and he more than outperformed every expectation of him. It is for that reason he sits so highly on our list of the Top 25 Syracuse Football Players of All-Time.