As the 2012 season approached, it was learned that junior TB Henry Josey would miss the entire season as he continued his recovery from knee surgery. In his absence, senior Kendial Lawrence secured the starting TB job and rushed for 1,025 yards (5.1 yards/carry) and 12 TDs. Lawrence established himself as more than a part time back, as well, as he averaged nearly 17 carries/game. Lawrence also picked up another 114 yards through the air on 18 receptions. Following a banner season, he was named team MVP. And, he did all of this despite playing behind a makeshift and banged-up offensive line and alongside of an oft-injured QB.
While Lawrence carried the load, he was not alone. Sophomore TB Marcus Murphy rushed for 251 and 1 TD on 46 carries (5.5 yards/carry), and he had 9 receptions for 22 yards. Murphy was excellent in the return game, as he returned 27 punts for 374 yards (13.9 yards/punt return) and 3 TDs. He also returned 19 kickoffs for 458 yards (24.1 yards/kick return) and 1 TD.
Murphy ranked 8th in the NCAA in yards/punt return and his 3 punt returns for TDs led the nation. Following the season, Murphy was named 2nd Team All-American by SI.com and CBSSports.com.
Three other backs saw action for Missouri during 2012. In addition to senior Jared McGriff-Culver, who saw action in all 12 games, mostly on special teams, but also as a blocking back, and who had 2 receptions out of the backfield for 10 yards, sophomore Greg White had 2 carries for 8 yards, and RSF Tyler Hunt had 1 rushing attempt for 1 yard.
The trio of Lawrence, Murphy, and Hansbrough were durable in 2012, and their 5 yards/carry average was a positive for an offense that was plagued by injuries and as a whole under-performed.
Kendial Lawrence has completed his Missouri career. Throughout his career, he continued the trend that we've seen under running backs’ coach Brian Jones, that of Missouri TBs who continue to improve throughout their career.
Josey spent the year getting healthy, and by season’s end, the junior-to-be was released by the medical staff to full participation. And, Marcus Murphy established himself as one of the premier return men in all of college football.