For old-time Razorback fans the name “Little” means a lot when you talk about the kicking game.
For Arkansas fans of a certain age, it’s hard not to reminisce just at little bit with sophomore kicker Cam Little’s name comes up for discussion, and while most kickers get very little publicity save when they miss a key field-goal attempt, Little had the type of freshman season that deserves to be mentioned.
The freshman All-American from Moore, Okla. played a pivotal role for the Razorbacks all season long. He made 20 of his 24 field-goal attempts, which ranks as the third most by an Arkansas kicker in a single season. Like clockwork, he made all 46 of his extra-point attempts.
He laid the foundation for the Razorbacks’ 40-21 victory over Texas with four field goals against the Longhorns. He booted field goals of 46, 48, and 51 yards in a 31-28 victory over Mississippi State, and came through for the Hogs the very next week with field goals of 48, 27, and 37 yards in a 16-13 overtime win over LSU.
So, no doubt Little is a weapon for the Razorbacks going into his sophomore season.
Little’s leg might remind longtime Hog fans of another all-star kicker named Little.
Steve Little was an All-American kicker and punter for Arkansas in the 1970s, and the Shawnee Mission, Kan. native was one of the greatest weapons at Frank Broyles’ disposal in his final three seasons as the Hogs head coach from 1974-76 and for Lou Holtz in 1977, his first year as the Razorbacks head coach.
Steve was among the first soccer-style kickers for the Hogs, and he had uncommon leg strength and excellent long-distance accuracy.
Steve Little still holds the record for the longest field goal in NCAA history of 67 yards in 1977 against Texas with three other players, one of them was his contemporary and rival Russel Erxleben of Texas who also accomplished the feat in 1977 against Rice.
Steve, a member of Arkansas’ All-Century Team, was recruited by Broyles as a quarterback and kicker, and if his leg hadn’t have been so gifted, he might’ve started at quarterback for the Razorbacks at some point in his career, but Broyles and legendary kicking coach Ken Turner knew what a weapon Little could be for the Hogs, and had him concentrate on place-kicking and punting.
Steve Little had an outstanding career for the Hogs. Forty-five years after his departure from Arkansas, Little’s name is still all over the Razorbacks’ kicking-game record books. Little was so well regarded, he was selected as the 15th pick of the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft.
His teammates and others remember Little as a bit of rounder and certainly a ladies man. He was known to have a girlfriend in practically every SWC town during his playing days with the Hogs.
However, Steve’s partying days tragically ended up getting the best of him after he was cut from the St. Louis Cardinals’ roster just three years into his pro career. The very night he was released, Little broke his neck in a high-speed, single-car automobile accident that left him a quadriplegic until his death at 43 years old in 1999.
Who knows what demons haunted Steve Little? I just remember how big of a hero he was to me as a young Razorback fan.
I distinctly remember my dad — who, Lord willing, will be calling the Hogs on his 93rd birthday this fall — telling me to pay attention when Steve was lining up his monster kick against the Longhorns on that sun-splashed 1977 October day in Razorback Stadium. He said it might be the longest field goal you’ll ever see. He was right. It was and is the longest made field goal I’ve witnessed to this day.
No doubt there are some young Razorback fans that marvel at Cam Little’s kicking ability today, and the great thing is that Cam Little isn’t just a fine field-goal kicker on the field, he’s a heck of young man off it, as well.
For every field goal Cam Little boots for the Hogs, he donates $10 to the Down Syndrome Connection of Northwest Arkansas in the honor of his cousin Ayden Little, who is a Special Olympics competitor with down syndrome.
What a fine way to honor his cousin and great display of generosity, spirit, and character by a young man, whom all Razorbacks fans can take a great deal of pride in.
As a fan, I’ll always root for Razorback touchdowns, but knowing that every field goal Cam Little makes helps out a worthy charity, makes every one of them extra special, too.