Former Orange great Floyd Little back at Syracuse

Former Syracuse great Floyd Little has been a frequent visitor over the years to the Carrier Dome on fall afternoons to watch his alma mater play.

The commute just got a lot shorter.

Little, a three-time All-American, is returning to serve as special assistant to athletics director Daryl Gross, the school announced Thursday. Little will be responsible for development and donor relations, he will assist with student-athlete and team development and recruiting, and also handle special projects.

"I have a great love for Syracuse and always have been an ambassador for the school," Little said. "I think this is a great opportunity. I talk about 'GPS,' which is grace, passion and skill. My grace from God is to give so much in teaching. I think that I am a great teacher and I have a lot to give."

Little, a star tailback and kick returner, holds school records for career touchdowns (46) and career punts returned for touchdowns (six). He finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in both his junior and senior years before going on to star with the Denver Broncos.

The sixth player selected in the 1967 NFL draft, Little became the first player in Broncos history to rush for 1,000 yards when he won the NFL's rushing crown with 1,133 in 1971. He amassed more than 12,000 all-purpose yards during a nine-year career.

"To have Floyd come back to Syracuse is like our own royalty returning to give back to his alma mater, which he has readily done over many years of gracious engagement," Gross said. "We look forward to being around his enthusiasm, inspiration and brilliance as we embrace his leadership. He will truly be a global ambassador for our great institution."

Little, who was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Professional Football Hall of Fame last year, already has been an asset to coach Doug Marrone. Little spoke to the team prior to its season opener at Akron last fall.

"He had a direct impact on our season," said Marrone, who led the Orange to an 8-5 record, their first winning season in a decade. "His message is powerful. He told the student-athletes that they should not let others define you, but define yourself. It is a message we will always carry with us in this program."

In his Syracuse career from 1964-1966, Little had 2,704 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns, and still holds the school record of 1,990 all-purpose yards in 1965, which topped the nation. During his junior season, Little became the first Syracuse back to run for more than 1,000 yards, gaining 1,065 on 193 carries with a 5.5 average. He also returned a career-high three punts for scores, including a school-record 95-yarder.

"Floyd will be a tremendous asset to the athletics department, the university as a whole and the Syracuse community," said Orange basketball coach Jim Boeheim, class of 1966. "I've known him since we were students at Syracuse. Everyone will benefit from him being back on campus in his new role."