Steve Little, who kicked the longest field goal in NCAA history for Arkansas in the 1977, died Monday at the age of 43.
Little, who later played for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NFL, was paralyzed from the neck down in an automobile accident in 1980.
He died around 6:30 a.m. at his home in Little Rock, according to his brother, Gene. The cause of death has not been determined, Gene Little said.
"I guess it could have been related to (the accident)," he said. "It probably would have helped if he could have moved around."
"It took us all by surprise."
In 1977, Little kicked a 67-yard field goal against Texas, tying the NCAA record set by Texas' Russell Erlexben two weeks earlier. The record was matched by Joe Williams of Wichita State the next season.
Little came to Arkansas in 1974 from Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kan., where he had been an all-state quarterback and defensive back.
He was so good coming out of high school that Razorbacks football legend Clyde Scott allowed Little to wear his No. 12 even though it was retired.
"He was an outstanding athlete," recalled Arkansas athletic director Frank Broyles, who was coach of the Razorbacks at the time. "He could have played quarterback for us, but he had such great speed with that leg."
Little played for the Razorbacks from 1974 to 1977, lettering in each of his four seasons. He holds the Arkansas record for most points in a career with 280. He made 53 of 89 field goals attempts during his four years and was 7-of-13 on field goals of 50 yards or longer. He also made 121 of 131 extra points.
In 1976, he played in a 31-10 victory over Georgia 31-10 in the Cotton Bowl, and in 1978, he played in a 31-6 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl. He kicked four extra points in each of those games.
Little was an All-America in 1976 and 1977 and was named to the school's all-century squad.
The Cardinals made him the 15th overall pick in the first round of the NFL draft in 1978. He punted and kicked for the Cardinals in 1978 and 1979. In his second season he was 10-of-19 on field goal attempts, the longest from 51 yards the fifth-longest in Cardinals history.
After playing six games in 1980, he was released Oct. 16. The same day, he was involved in the automobile accident that left him paralyzed.
Broyles said Little had been an inspiration to others since his accident left him a quadriplegic, displaying a courageous ability to cope with adversity.
Little had moved to Little Rock in 1978, his brother said, after being drafted by the Cardinals.
In addition to his brother, Little is survived by his father, Ron, of Little Rock.
Funeral arrangements are to be announced by Griffin Leggett Healey and Roth Funeral Home of Little Rock.
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