For some, the ability to walk again following what doctors referred to as a “one in a million” type injury would be sufficient. For others, stepping foot on a football field, even at the college level, after tearing a patellar tendon, ACL, and MCL would be the greatest accomplishment of one’s young life. For Philadelphia Eagles recently acquired undrafted free agent running back Henry Josey however, the current goal is to now somehow join a backfield consisting of LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, and Chris Polk.
If you watched the Cotton Bowl earlier this year, you certainly will remember Josey’s performance of three touchdowns on 92 yards rushing for the Missouri Tigers. In an X-Men type depiction of days of future past and present, the talent displayed for one night in Jerry’s World at the Cotton Bowl was highly reminiscent of Henry Josey’s sophomore seasom for Mizzou in 2011 where he led the entire country with 8.1 rushing yards per attempt. Unfortunately, scouts and doctors alike all shared similar sentiments regarding the health of Henry Josey entering the NFL and as a result, the 22 year old running back went undrafted.
The fork in the road for Henry Josey occurred November 12, 2011 against the University of Texas. Entering the game, Josey led the Big 12 in rushing yards despite Missouri’s abysmal 4-5 record at the time. Additionally, Henry Josey was 5th in the nation in rushing yards entering the victory against Texas. Unfortunately, Josey would leave the game after just 19 yards on 11 carries due to a gruesome knee injury that would result in several surgeries on cartilage, ligaments, and the meniscus. As an additional aspect of adversity, Henry Josey was amongst the teammates of now St. Louis Rams linebacker Michael Sam. The level of professionalism, courage, and strength for each and every member of that team to not only show acceptance for their teammate’s personal life but keep it behind closed doors is highly commendable. And while adversity might be viewed as a strong word in this context, acceptance of those that are different is an unbelievably difficult challenge for anyone, particularly young adults in their early 20′s.
Despite nearly having his playing career cut short both on the field and at the draft, the Philadelphia Eagles made sure that Henry Josey would be signed to the team immediately following the conclusion of the draft. Already being relegated to “camp fodder” status by most casual fans and deemed as a long-shot to make even the practice squad, Henry Josey finds himself at yet another crossroads. With diminutive size yet blazing speed for a running back (4.43 40 yard dash), Josey is going to have to first excel as a returns specialist in order to have a realistic chance at getting quality reps in the pre-season. And similar to the rehab just less than three years ago, the deck appears to be stacked against Josey.
But as Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly famously said a season ago, “Very simply, we’re from Philadelphia and we fight…If we are going to lineup and kickoff, you tell us what time to show up and we will be there.” Truer words couldn’t better describe Henry Josey’s current situation. And if the player that demonstrated game changing flashes while at Missouri can replicate those performances, Chip Kelly might already have a successor to recently acquired running back Darren Sproles. Given the challenges faced already in this young man’s football career, it’s not beyond a reasonable doubt that Henry Josey can stick around with the Philadelphia Eagles in some capacity.