Former Missouri Tiger Bounces Back From Devastating Knee Injury
There was a time when no one thought running back Henry Josey would play football again, much less get predicted to be a late-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. In the midst of a stellar 2011 season at the University of Missouri, Josey was pulled down awkwardly by a Texas Longhorn defender at the end of a run. His left knee buckled under his body, tearing his patellar tendon, ACL and MCL all at the same time. It was a devastating injury, causing Josey to miss the rest of the 2011 campaign and all of the 2012 college football season.
After a grueling year of rehab, Josey returned to the field in 2013 and ran for 1,116 yards and 16 TDs, including the winning touchdown against Texas A&M to clinch the SEC East. He went on to shine at the NFL Combine, clocking an explosive 4.43 in the 40-Yard Dash. With the NFL Draft a few days away, we caught up with the shifty running back to talk about his improbable comeback, how often his cell phone rings, and why he’d finally like to play in some warm weather.
STACK: What’s your schedule been like these past few months?
Henry Josey: Today is probably my first day of actual downtime. These past few months leading up to the Combine have been just insane. I’ve never seen so many flights in my life. People in the airport knew who I was every time I walked in there getting ready to leave.
What have you been doing? Training? Meeting with teams?
This past month has been meeting with teams. Having the interviews and the private workouts, that’s what this month has been. I just finished up with that, now it’s time to relax a little bit.
I think everyone imagines NFL draft prospects with their phone ringing off the hook all day. Is that really what it’s like?
It is like that. It’s crazy. My grandma, she’s not used to the phone going off all the time, and I have to leave it on loud because you never know who’s calling. She hears it going off and she’s like “Oh my god.” It’s getting on her nerves.
What’s your training been like as you’ve prepared for the NFL Draft?
Right now I’m just maintaining and making sure I keep my body weight up and making sure I stay ready and in shape. The training part is pretty much done now, but before the Combine and before my pro day, it was like a mad house every day. You had to take a nap.
How often were you working out?
I started at 6:30 in the morning. I don’t remember taking a break, so we’d be going that whole time. We have our lunch break, which is like our regular hour break, but as soon as that was over, you were right back at it again. You’d be running and doing speed work and working on agility and acceleration. Then after lunch you would do all your weight lifting and then sometimes another speed session because you needed to get that extra work in. It’s like you’re working an eight-hour shift every day.
Crazy. Have you had to change the way the train because of your serious knee injury? Or has it been the same?
It’s the same. I didn’t feel like my knee was a problem or it was going to stop me from doing anything. The confidence I have in my knee is just, I don’t even know if I’ve been hurt anymore, that’s how I feel about it. I never worry about whether I can’t do something because I think it’s going to bother my knee anymore at all.
Speaking of your injury, it’s funny. Some scouts say that they like how you bounced back from it. Others use it as a caution flag. Has the injury been a help or a hinderance to you?
I don’t even worry about what they are saying about my knee anymore. I talk to these teams and the way I dealt with the adversity, that’s the biggest thing I did. Most people would not come out of this, or not come out on top of this the way I did. I’m just blessed to be in this position. Teams never worry about my knee. I haven’t talked to a team where they are like “How’s your knee doing?” They never ask about it. I don’t understand it, but I’m glad they aren’t worried about it just like I am.
What are you going to bring to a team? And what is the biggest thing you want to work on once you get drafted?
They are definitely going to get a playmaker. I love to be on the field, I love to make plays. I don’t care if I’m out wide lined up in the slot, if I’m in the backfield, if I have to play receiver or kick returner, it doesn’t matter where I’m at. I’m going to make plays for them.
Something I always thought I could work on is my film study. The film study you do in college is great, but when you’re at the next level, you’re with guys who are the guy, and they were the guy on their team. Everybody is good. So you have to really study film and see how they play.
Mizzou has been churning out NFL prospects the past few years. What’s in the water over there?
It’s because of our training. Everything I’ve done up to the Combine through now, we’ve already been doing at Mizzou. Mizzou gets you not only ready to play for them but also NFL-ready and ready for the next step in your life. A lot of teams do not do that. I train with people and they are like “Oh, we don’t do this at all.” I’m like, this is something that we had to do every week.
The functional moving screen test. That’s something that a lot of people didn’t do at all. I’ve been going to teams and the functional moving screen test, that’s something you have to pass before you can even go to practice. We did that every week almost. We made sure our bodies are moving right because you have to score 3 on certain things, and guys were like “I’ve never done this before.” They know they can do it, they’ve just never practiced it before like we have.
What are your expectations for draft night?
I don’t know where I’ll get drafted at, but wherever it is I just know I’ll have to go in and prove myself. That’s the main thing I want to do, is prove myself and that I’m worthy of this draft pick and I’m worthy of being on your team. I’ve had a lot of doubters all my life, so that’s something that I can’t wait to do, is prove somebody wrong. There’s not really any team that I would particularly want. I just want to be warm, I’ve been cold for four years. I just want some heat, man. [laughing]
When you suffered that knee injury in 2011, did you ever think you’d be where you are now?
I think about it all the time now. It’s a blessing for me to be in this moment and share this with so many people that have inspired me. I have so many people that have supported me, it’s just crazy how happy they are that I’m doing this for myself, but also that they can be a part of it and share it with me too. It’s a blessing for me just to be in this position right now and do this again.