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Josey savors move to starting lineup
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Henry Josey arrived at Missouri expecting to be an extra in a crowded backfield this season.
In Game 2, he emerged as a star.
Someone had to for the Tigers. Starting running back Derrick Washington was dismissed amid a sexual assault claim and backup Kendial Lawrence suffered a right shoulder injury in the opener against Illinois.
The following Saturday against McNeese State, Josey piled up 112 yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries, including scoring runs of 34 and 62 yards.
"My offensive line was just opening up lanes and I took off running," Josey said. "I outran everyone else out there and that's what I'm supposed to do."
He'll get another chance Saturday when Missouri (2-0) hosts San Diego State (2-0).
Josey is only 5 foot 9 and weighs just 180 pounds. He was a state champion sprinter in high school at Angleton, Texas, following in the footsteps of his father, Henry Neal. Josey posted a 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds, fast enough to persuade coach Gary Pinkel to offer him a scholarship.
"Being small doesn't bother me at all as long as you're faster than everybody else on the field," Pinkel said. "The speed and quickness is the most important thing."
Josey racked up 1,369 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns during his senior season at Angleton. He formed a special bond with his quarterback, Quandre Diggs, who will head to the Texas Longhorns next year. The two spent much of their time off the field fishing together, which Josey says helps him to relax and take his mind off of football.
"He is like a little brother to me," Josey said. "I call him every Friday night to check in on him after games and I get a call from him on Saturdays."
It's not just the explosive athletic ability that has earned the respect of his new teammates. They like his maturity. Fellow true freshman tailback Marcus Murphy, who has become a close friend, isn't worried about all the attention the young rusher has received.
"He isn't big headed at all," Murphy said. "He won't even celebrate when he scores. He keeps a straight head on his shoulders and just focuses, and that's what I like about him."
No touchdown dances doesn't mean Josey doesn't get excited about scoring.
"I'm just ready for more," he said. "Plain and simple."