Josey struggled with decision to leave Missouri, turn pro

01/10/2014 2:15 PM

01/10/2014 2:15 PM

If Henry Josey’s decision whether to remain at Missouri or enter the 2014 NFL Draft had been a prize fight, it would have gone the distance.

“Today is the first day I’ve felt some relief,” Josey said by phone Tuesday night from Houston. “I can breathe pretty good today. The last couple days have been pretty stressful. I’ve been watching my little boy (Henry Jr.) and that’s helped me out a lot.”

Of course, it’s hard to fault the Tigers’ junior running back for pursuing a pro career.

Josey led No. 5 Missouri with 174 carries for 1,166 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He leaves ranked fourth with 30 career rushing touchdowns and fifth with 2,771 rushing yards.

Making those statistics even more remarkable, there was some question if he’d ever walk without a limp, much less return to the football field, after a devastating knee injury in November 2012.

Josey, who became the second Missouri running back with two 1,000-yard seasons (Tony Temple), could have cemented a legacy as one of the all-time great Tigers by sticking around for his senior season.

Nonetheless, he will be remembered as one of Missouri’s most inspirational and beloved players.

On the surface, it might seem peculiar for a player with a fourth-round draft grade to declare early, but as Josey pointed out, “that’s just their guess on everything.”

Besides, how much could Josey really improve his draft stock by sticking around another season?

An NFL running back’s career is risky and generally short-lived, so jumping into the fray with an extra year’s worth of tread on the tires actually helps.

Josey’s knee will always be an issue when evaluating his draft stock. That’s not going to change in a year.

“With my knee, it’s always going to be an issue,” Josey said. “If I go back, maybe I can improve my draft stock or maybe I get hurt. There’s so many things to think about. My knee still has been damaged before and no matter what I do that injury’s still going to affect stock.”

In other words, there’s no good reason — other than loyalty to coach Gary Pinkel and love for Missouri — for Josey to stay.

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