The AT&T Cotton Bowl provided a storybook ending this season for junior tailback Henry Josey.
After sitting out the 2012 season with a knee injury doctors called “one in a million,” Josey found the end zone three times for a season high as the Missouri Tigers prevailed over the Oklahoma State Cowboys 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 3.
He left the confetti-clad field at AT&T Stadium as the most outstanding offensive player after averaging seven yards per attempt with 12 touches. For his defensive counterpart, there was senior linebacker Andrew Wilson who capped his final season with 113 tackles, passing his father in career tackles. Wilson will leave Missouri as the 10th leading tackler with 332.
Bowl game defensive MVP is not a new title for Wilson, who received similar honors in Missouri’s Independence Bowl win over North Carolina to finish the 2011 season. He recorded nine tackles and forced a fumble in that game.
“It’s a good feeling,” Wilson said. “I would like to say anybody on the defense could have got this trophy. I got the luck of the draw because everybody played great.”
The defense clinched the victory for the Tigers when senior defensive end Michael Sam forced a fumble and sophomore defensive end Shane Ray ran it into the end zone. Wilson chased after Ray to join in the touchdown celebration, but he said he was dead tired after sprinting 73 yards.
While the defensive award had many candidates, Josey was the offensive star, accounting for all but one of the offense’s touchdowns. In fact, his three touchdowns on the ground for a total of 18 points set a Cotton Bowl record as the most scored rushing by an individual player.
“I have the best support ever,” Josey said of his MVP honor. “I have so many people that have behind me and pushing me…. These guys believe in me even when I doubted myself, even when everybody was doubting that I would come back again.”
And come back he did. Josey eclipsed the 1,000-yard benchmark this season, becoming the second tailback at MU to achieve such a milestone twice. The junior is eligible for the draft, but he said he would wait until talking to his grandma, who was not able to make it to the Cotton Bowl.
“(Josey) is a remarkable kid,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “He’s special. That’s what you see on the field. But the reason he’s special. He’s got great athleticism. He’s tough. He’s strong, all those other things. But his heart, you measure how big his heart is.”