Columbia — It’s been a long road back for junior Henry Josey, so you understand why the smile hasn’t left the running back's face since fall camp started Thursday.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“I couldn’t ask for anything else in the world, being back out here on the field and being with my guys again,” Josey said. “I love the game, I want to play the game for the rest of my life. It was a step being back out here, and it feels good.”
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Josey - who was on pace for a monster 2011 season before he essentially shredded his knee against Texas last November - has spent the first three practices largely as an observer. However, he has been doing some sprint work during practice with strength coach Pat Ivey, and is optimistic as ever about his eventual return.
“I’m mostly just getting back into running, getting back to being comfortable with myself and being able to cut off my knee and stop on a dime,” Josey said.
Josey, who had two surgeries, said he couldn’t remember the last time he felt discomfort in the knee. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has repeatedly said it would be tough for Josey to see the field this year – he can redshirt this year and still have two years of eligibility remaining – but Josey isn’t necessarily ready to rule out the possibility of playing this year.
“I pretty much feel like I’m back (to normal) already,” Josey. “But it’s just (a matter of) getting back that extra confidence I had last year.”
Not that he’s lacking confidence now. When asked when he’ll know he’s back once he takes his first hit, Josey could only laugh.
“I’ve always been a little guy – I’m not worried about anyone hitting me at all,” he said. “Nobody has ever got a big hit on me anyway.”
Other Day 3 observations
Freshman tight end Sean Culkin was impressive today, making several catches in traffic. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder from Indian Rocks Beach, Fla., was listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals.com out of high school, where he had offers from Miami (Fla.), Cincinnati, Kansas and South Florida.
“He looks pretty good,” Pinkel said. “He’s moving well, about 232, 233 but I think anybody out here watching is like ‘Whoa, who is this guy.’ We thought that when we recruited him, he was a real high-level player coming from a small high school in Florida. But he’s certainly making his mark, doing some good things.”
Both Culkin and fellow three-star freshman tight end Brandon Holifield – a 6-foot-5, 215-pound prospect from Godby High School in Tallahassee – have had their moments in camp. Both players are big bodies with impressive athleticism. It’s not hard to see each being contributors down the road.
*Senior receiver Gahn McGaffie had a few big gains today where he eluded some defenders after the catch. Pinkel called McGaffie “reliable” and a “team player” after practice. McGaffie is currently listed as senior T.J. Moe’s backup at the “X” receiver position.
*Starting quarterback James Franklin continues to look just fine. He threw some tight spirals, made a few quality throws and was his same cheery self after practice, despite a tough conditioning drill that consisted of several sprints at the end.
One thing I noticed about Franklin that I definitely respect - he wore his shoulder pads during the drill, while the overwhelming majority of his teammates took advantage of the chance to remove them for conditioning.
“When I first got here, I took them off because I thought you had to," Franklin said. "t makes it a little easier, but I think maybe a year and a half ago, I started wearing them. We play games like that, so you might as well condition like that."
"He's not afraid to stick his head in there," Edwards said. "Randy is a hitter and he will deliver, so that's why we call him 'Big Possum.'"
*I spotted senior strong safety Ian Simon working with the first team in Missouri's nickel package.
*The offense dominated a 1-on-1 drill today, as receivers ran routes against defensive backs. Star recruit Dorial Green-Beckham had one nice catch, where he ran a go route and caught the ball for a big gain over fellow freshman John Gibson.
Freshman running back Russell Hansbrough shed his red non-contact jersey for the first time today. Hansbrough was dealing with a sprained ankle. Moe (hamstring) has yet to shed his red jersey, but still participated in some drills.
Freshman linebacker Torey Boozer and junior college linebacker Markus Golden are still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA. Team spokesman Chad Moller said he wasn’t sure how close either player is to arriving on campus.
To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/TerezPaylor.