If there was a signature moment during Missouri’s run to the SEC East division crown, it probably came during the fourth quarter of the regular-season finale against Texas A
Tigers junior Henry Josey broke free with less than 4 minutes remaining and broke a 21-21 tie with a 57-yard touchdown gallop, clinching the division championship in front of a raucous Memorial Stadium crowd.
Two years earlier, Josey laid on the same field with his knee ravaged. He tore his ACL, MCL and the lateral and medial menisci in his left knee trying to plant and cut up field against Texas.
Doctors questioned whether Josey would walk again, much less play football.
Josey, who was second in the nation with an 8.1-yard per carry average that season as a sophomore, missed the 2012 campaign altogether.
Of course, by now you know that Josey’s return to the field was among the best feel-good stories in college football last season.
Josey declared for the NFL Draft after a junior season in which he rushed for 1,166 yards and 16 touchdowns, including three en route to offensive MVP honors during a Cotton Bowl victory against Oklahoma State.
He also granted The Star a few minutes for a pre-draft interview:
Q: Much of the pre-draft chatter about running backs has centered on teams being reluctant to invest high picks — or perhaps any picks at all — on the position. Does that worry you?
: “No, not at all. Just being drafted is big anyway. People think just because you don’t get drafted in the early rounds that that’s it, but you’re still among the top guys. It doesn’t worry me at all.”
Q: Are you hearing anything from scouts or your agent about where you might go?
: “I’m not sure. I’m just going to be watching. I’m most likely a third-day guy. I’ll be paying attention on Saturday to see what’s going on.”
Q: Is it going to be exciting to see where the rest of your teammates wind up?
: “It really has been great, because we’re all so close and all want success for each other. Seeing each one of us go somewhere would be great for each one of us, and we’ll all be excited about it.”
Q: Doctors after the NFL Combine gave you the all clear as far as your surgically repaired knee. How much of a relief was that?
: “It’s big, because that’s the main thing most people and teams were worried about. For that to be cleared, it’s just like, ‘All right, let’s just worry about who’s going to pick you up now.’ That takes a lot of pressure off of a lot of people’s shoulders, not just mine.”
Q: How much do you think that might help your draft stock?
: “It definitely helps. It increases it a lot, especially with the way I’ve been performing (at the NFL Combine and workouts). Just by me passing that and not having to go back again, it’s a blessing and it’s a great feeling to have that off my shoulders.”
Q: Did you hear from a lot of teams after that blazing 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine?
: “It was 4.40 there and officially came back a 4.39 once the teams got through with it. They thought I was going to run like a 4.5, so that got people’s attention.”
Q: Do you have a preference where you play with family — including your 2-year-old son, Henry Jr. — in Houston and Dallas?
: “I’m not worried about where I play. I just want to play football again. I’m tired of sitting around talking about it.”
Q: How is your blocking, because that’s going to be questioned given your size (5 feet, 8 inches and 194 pounds)?
: “I recently put out a film of me blocking, so I think that shut all that up pretty quick. That quieted a whole bunch of stuff.”
Q: Is there anybody your pattern your game after or particularly admire?
: “I always like watching (Minnesota running back) Adrian Peterson. I like how tough he runs. I’ve been compared now to (Philadelphia running back and Olathe North graduate) Darren Sproles with the way I run and am able to catch out of the backfield. It’s exciting just to mentioned in the same boat as those guys.”
Q: Are you getting nervous?
: “I’m not really nervous. I’m just ready for it to be over with. It’s such a long process you go through waiting for that day to come, so you can relax and enjoy it with your family.”
Q: What’s the game plan for the weekend? Will you watch the NFL Draft at home with your son?
Josey: “Yeah, I’ll be at home the whole time with the family. He definitely will be here. We’re going to sit back and relax, enjoy each other’s company. But when my name’s called, we’ll definitely celebrate with each other then it’s on to the next thing in my life.”