Missouri will have to go into its inaugural SEC football season without the services of injured tailback Henry Josey.
Tigers coach Gary Pinkel has confirmed that the junior would not play this season as he continues to mend from a catastrophic knee injury suffered late last season.
Josey, a first-team All-Big 12 pick and a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award that goes to the nation’s top running back, is expected, however, to have made a complete recovery by the time he returns next year with two seasons of eligibility remaining.
“Henry Josey will not play this year,” Pinkeltold reporters on Monday as his team prepares for this week’s season opener against Southeastern Louisiana. “He will be back one of these days.”
Mizzou doesn’t figure to get much of a challenge on Saturday, but will see the level of competition rise dramatically the following week when it hosts sixth-ranked Georgia on Sept. 8 in the school’s much-anticipated SEC debut.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Josey had seemingly come out of nowhere last season to become one of college football’s most dangerous backs.
But things took a disastrous turn in a game against Texas on Nov. 12 when Josey tore his anterior cruciate ligament, his medial collateral ligament and patella tendon. The devastating injury snapped his string of four consecutive games of at least 125 yards rushing and required two corrective surgeries.
He still wound up averaging better than eight yards per carry in rushing for a team-best 1,168 yards, a total that ranks as the fifth-best in school history despite his missing the final three games of the season. Quarterback James Franklin was the team’s second-leading rusher with 981 yards.
Kendial Lawrence will assume Josey’s spot in the lineup. The senior began the 2011 season atop the depth chart before breaking his leg in practice prior to the Tigers’ second game, but later returned to finish the year with 566 yards on 119 carries.
Lawrence has looked good in the preseason, prompting Pinkel to say that he’s had “as good a camp as we’ve had a running back here.”
Josey had hoped to be back on the field this fall and was seen running 100-yard sprints, but it wasn’t to be as the joint had not recovered enough to allow him to compete.