After one of the best comeback stories in college football, Missouri junior tailback Henry Josey is headed out of Columbia. The junior announced his intentions to enter the 2014 NFL Draft on Tuesday afternoon.
"This is really a bittersweet decision to make," Josey said in a statement from the University. "I'm so grateful to Mizzou and my coaches and teammates and fans for all of their support and everything they've meant to me these past four years. It's difficult to think I won't be with them next year. But I'm really excited to have a chance to play professionally and work on fulfilling a dream I've had since I was a little kid."
Josey ran for 1,166 yards on 174 carries this season and led the 12-and-2 Tigers with 16 touchdowns. His 53-yard run against Texas A&M provided the winning score in the Tigers' 28-21 win over the Aggies that clinched a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
"We're going to miss him, no question, but Henry wants to pursue his dream of playing professionally and we wish him nothing but the best and we'll do everything we can to help him reach that goal," head coach Gary Pinkel said. "The Mizzou Football program is in better shape because of his efforts, so we're grateful for the time he spent with us, and we know he'll represent Mizzou well going forward."
Josey is just the second Mizzou running back to record two 1,000-yard seasons. He ran for 1,168 yards as a sophomore in 2011 before suffering a devastating knee injury that cost him the final three games of that year and forced him to redshirt in 2012.
"I can't possibly express how much I owe to so many people for helping me get to this position," Josey said. "My doctors, trainers, strength coaches, everyone who pushed me and helped me and believed in me, and of course my coaches for trusting me. To the Mizzou fans, thanks so much for all of your prayers and thoughts the past couple of years, you truly inspired me to get back on the field."
"Henry Josey is a first-class person any way you cut it, and anytime you take that out of your program, it leaves a void," said Pinkel. "He is such an amazing competitor, and I've said time and again just how inspiring he has been for our team the last two years. We were so proud of him for overcoming everything he had to deal with, and to be such a positive influence on and off the field."
Josey finishes his career with 2,771 yards on 395 carries over three seasons. He ranks fifth on Mizzou's all-time career rushing list and has the fifth and sixth-best single season totals. Josey's seven yards per carry average is the best in Mizzou history by more than a full yard. He finishes his career with fewer carries than any of the top 12 rushers in school history.
"I'm going to miss my teammates," Josey said. "But I know they'll do great things and I will always be a Mizzou Tiger."
Josey is the second Tiger to leave early for the NFL, joining defensive end Kony Ealy, who declared for the draft following the Cotton Bowl.
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