COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Henry Josey is known to be quick on the football field. His ability to flash a smile is even quicker.
But for more than 16 months, the Missouri tailback's world became a little darker as he watched his teammates from the sidelines, recovering from a torn left ACL, MCL and patellar tendon sustained on Nov. 12, 2011.
"They were telling me I was going to play again, but that was the last thing on my mind," Josey said. "I just felt like I was in a dream. I was always finding myself asking, 'Why?' That was a big thing with me."
Josey worked with surgeon Dr. Pat Smith and trainer Rex Sharp in hopes of once again becoming the all-Big 12 rusher who led the Tigers with 1,168 yards.
But the 5-foot-10, 190-pound junior says the biggest help he received from Smith was improving his state of mind by not prodding about his injury.
"I know we work on that, a lot of mental stuff," Josey said. "And him preaching it in my head and not for once asking, how am I doing, 'How's your knee?' Just telling me to keep positive with everything and I just got through it."
Of course, it's one thing to sound confident on the sidelines and another to look confident on the field. But so far this spring, Josey has, rushing 12 times for 55 yards in two scrimmages. He says he's 100 percent healthy — coach Gary Pinkel prefers "very close" — and doesn't think about his knee on the field.
Many football players sustain season-ending injuries, but teammates and coaches note that Josey is an exceptional case and practically beam whenever someone asks about him.
"It's awesome," coach Andy Hill said. "Seeing it in practice, the Henry Josey moves that nobody else has, and his style of running. When he takes it and goes, he's special. He's a special person. And he's worked especially hard to get to where he is today. I think it's pretty neat indeed that he can be out there and do what he's doing."
Quarterback James Franklin says Josey's comeback has been "inspiring" for players as the team looks to rebound from its own struggles last year in a disappointing 5-7 inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference.