COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Henry Josey doesn't know what to expect when he trots onto Faurot Field on Saturday.
There will likely be the familiar feelings of joy and nervousness that typically accompany the start of a new season. But there may also be some tears, though the Missouri running back says he'll do his best to hide them.
Josey will be playing in his first game in nearly two years after being sidelined since Nov. 12, 2011, when he sustained a gruesome injury that tore his left anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and patellar tendon.
"A blessing," he said about his return. "A very crazy blessing."
Tens of thousands — including his two-year-old son, Henry Jr. — will cheer him on, but Josey says the key to keeping his emotions in check is staying within himself. He talks to himself daily, offering reminders to focus on the task at hand. After more than a year of painstaking rehab, it's some of the best therapy he has. Simply running out of the locker room pales in comparison to the surgeries.
"The first time he runs the ball in the game, it certainly will be a moment we've all been waiting for," coach Gary Pinkel said.
Whatever happens, Josey says he won't be worrying about his knee. He can't if he wants to replicate his all-Big 12 season in 2011. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior from Angleton, Texas, relied on misdirection and raw speed to amass 1,168 yards, good for third in the conference despite only playing in 10 games. His 8.1 yards per carry ranked first.
Those numbers have coaches hopeful after Missouri's rushing output dropped last year in its first season as part of the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers finished tied for 12th in the SEC with 138.5 yards per game on the ground, and tied for last at 3.7 yards per carry. With Josey the year before, the team was first in the Big 12 with 244 yards per game and 5.4 per attempt.