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Missouri running back Henry Josey to forgo senior year, enter NFL draft

Henry Josey scored three touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl to finish the season with 16 rushing scores.Henry Josey scored three touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl to finish the season with 16 rushing scores. (Tim Sharp/AP)

Missouri running back Henry Josey will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft, the Tigers announced Tuesday.

As a redshirt junior in 2012, Josey ran for 1,166 yards and 16 touchdowns. Those 16 scores ranked second in the SEC.

In a statement, Josey said he will miss his career at Missouri.

"This is really a bittersweet decision to make," Josey said. "I'm so grateful to Mizzou and my coaches and teammates and fans for all of their support and everything they've meant to me these past four years. It's difficult to think I won't be with them next year. But I'm really excited to have a chance to play professionally and work on fulfilling a dream I've had since I was a little kid. I can't possibly express how much I owe to so many people for helping me get to this position, my doctors, trainers, strength coaches, everyone who pushed me and helped me and believed in me, and of course my coaches for trusting me. To the Mizzou fans, thanks so much for all of your prayers and thoughts the past couple of years. You truly inspired me to get back on the field. I'm going to miss my teammates, but I know they'll do great things, and I will always be a Mizzou Tiger."

Josey was a key player in Missouri's 41-31 Cotton Bowl win over Oklahoma State, in which he ran for three touchdowns and earned Offensive Player of the Game honors. The tailback missed the entire 2012 season after suffering a knee injury late in the 2011 campaign, but he still became only the second Tigers player with two 1,000-yard rushing seasons -- he ran for 1,168-yard and nine touchdown in 2011. In his career at Mizzou, Josey rushed for 2,771 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Tigers' coach Gary Pinkel said he is excited to watch Josey pursue his NFL dreams.

"Henry Josey is a first-class person any way you cut it, and anytime you take that out of your program, it leaves a void," Pinkel said. "He is such an amazing competitor, and I've said time and again just how inspiring he has been for our team the last two years. We were so proud of him for overcoming everything he had to deal with, and to be such a positive influence on and off the field. We're going to miss him, no question, but Henry wants to pursue his dream of playing professionally, and we wish him nothing but the best and we'll do everything we can to help him reach that goal. The Mizzou football program is in better shape because of his efforts, so we're grateful for the time he spent with us, and we know he'll represent Mizzou well going forward," he said.

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