WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Boilermakers lost an iconic figure in its history Thursday morning. Former Purdue running back and safety Leroy Keyes passed away in his home at the age of 74.
Keyes was survived by his wife Monica and four children Colin, Raymond, Jacqueline and Courtland.
The Keyes family released the following statement.
"The Keyes family is saddened to announce the passing the Purdue’s Athlete of the Century, Leroy Keyes. He passed peacefully at home this morning at 5:17 a.m. local time surrounded by his wife and children.
"Celebration of Life arrangements will be forthcoming. Your thoughts, prayers and condolences are felt and truly appreciated. We thank you for respecting our privacy during this difficult time."
Keyes is considered to be one of the greatest players to ever wear a Boilermaker uniform. He was voted the All-Time Greatest Player in Purdue football history as part of the 100th anniversary of Purdue football in 1987.
As a unanimous All-American selection at Purdue 1967 and 1968, Keyes is the only two-time consensus All-American in program history. He finished third and second in the Heisman Trophy vote during his junior and senior seasons.
"We are saddened today by the loss of a true Boilermaker legend, Leroy Keyes," Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said in a statement. "His accomplishments as a player and the heights he took Purdue football are unprecedented. In addition to being an all-time great player, he was an even better person.
Even though freshmen were unable to see the field during Keyes' playing time, he made himself known during his first game as a sophomore on Sept. 24, 1966. He returned a fumble 95 yards for a touchdown on national television against the eventual national champion Notre Dame.
As a dual-threat athlete, Keyes' nickname was "The Golden Mr. Do-Everything" and ended his Boilermaker career totaling 2,090 rushing yards, 1,204 receiving yards and 37 total touchdowns. He also recorded eight touchdown passes and was credited with four interceptions as a defensive back. Keyes was a dynamic return threat as well, posting a 25.8-yard kickoff return average.
During his junior season, Keyes scored 19 touchdowns to set a Purdue single-season record that still stands today. The same year, he led the country with 114 points and was named the Big Ten Conference Most Valuable Player.
Keyes also remains the program's leader with a 6.6 yards per carry rushing average for a single season in 1967 and boasts a 5.88 yards per carry average for his collegiate career, another Purdue record.
As a senior, Keyes became the first Boilermaker to ever rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
“Leroy was a true Boilermaker icon,” vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics Mike Bobinski said. “He will be missed not only as a legendary player, but even more so for the positive impact he had on so many over the course of his life.”
Keyes was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and was an inaugural member of the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994.