November 12, 2011 is a day that will live in infamy for Tiger fans. It was on that day that we lost one of our brightest young stars, Henry Josey. The running back went down with an injury that was described as "a tragic fluke, a one-in-a-million type of injury." Just like that, Missouri was without its best ball-carrier for the foreseeable future, but they were also provided with an opportunity.
Gary Pinkel sits in his office, surrounded by his staff and a team of top medical professionals. A screen behind him displays a scan of his injured player. He leans forward and addresses the room. "Henry Josey, a running back barely able to run. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology." The screen behind Pinkel jumps to life, illustrating the various additions that will be made to Josey's legs.
Gary continues, "We have the capability to build the world's first bionic back. Henry Josey will be that back. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster." At first, no one knew how to respond. Up until now, it was assumed that Josey would be going through the normal rehabilitation processes. They had no idea that there was another option, but as they analyzed the details on the screen it became clear that this was a real possibility. More than that, it was the best course of action.
The next day they went to work. In all, the various procedures took the doctors three days. On the fourth day, Henry Josey awoke a new man. The pain in his knee was gone, replaced with a strange mechanical sensation. He swung his legs around the side of the operating table and hopped to the ground. The tiles underneath him cracked as he landed, sending the attending physicians back a few steps. He smiled at them, letting them know that there was nothing to fear, and then dashed out of the room. He was fast. Much faster than he had ever been before. It took him half as long to run from the medical building to his coach's office, where Pinkel greeted him with open arms. "Henry, you look fantastic! How about we give those new legs a test drive." Josey smiled, and followed Gary to the weight room.
It was incredible. Josey was twice as strong as he used to be, and he could run for hours without tiring. After topping out at 43 mph, he stepped off the treadmill to admire what had transpired. This was huge, both he and his coach knew it, but they also knew that it was a situation that demanded finesse. They couldn't just throw him back out on the field, it would raise too many eyebrows. No, they would have to go along with the rehab schedule. He would have to wait a year to unleash his newfound powers on the college football world.
So they bided their time. Josey mastered his new abilities behind closed doors, and Pinkel went about his business like the procedure never happened. It was hard, there were countless times when Gary wanted to insert his bionic back into the lineup and turn around the disastrous 2012 season, but he knew he couldn't. He knew that if he pulled this cat out of the bag too early, it could ruin the whole operation.
Pinkel's patience was rewarded in earnest this year, and no single play highlights Josey's resurgence better than his touchdown scamper to seal Missouri's first SEC East championship. If you look closely, you can see the gears churning in the running back's legs as he races past defender after defender.
Those poor Aggies never stood a chance. After sitting out for a year and watching his team struggle, Henry Josey is running with a vengeance this year. He is doing everything that he can to ensure that his Tigers are the best that they can be. Henry Josey knows what it's like to sit back and watch a season go down the drain, and he's doing everything that he can to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
Auburn may boast one of the nation's more prolific running offenses, but the most dangerous ball-carrier in Saturday's game will be wearing black and gold.