Why Memphis WR Joseph Scates credits his mother for his mental toughness

Why Memphis WR Joseph Scates credits his mother for his mental toughness

Jaunida Hurt watched her son’s breakaway against Arkansas State while seated at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. She also noticed his reaction as Joseph Scates collected the ball but clapped his hands in frustration.

Hurt knew her son would overthink the mistake, so she grabbed her phone to text the receiver in Memphis. It was a photo of her youngest son, Joseph, wearing a shirt that said two words: Hi Dad.

“I didn’t say anything else,” Hurt said. “There was no doubt in my mind. I knew Joe was going to pull himself together.

Scates smiled upon seeing the text at halftime. That was all he needed to put the game behind him and in the fourth quarter he found redemption with a 51 yard touchdown catch in the Tigers’ 44-32 win.

“I didn’t really guess (the fumbling was) why she sent the picture, I thought she was just sending me a picture of my son,” Scates said. “But I think I know why she sent it just to keep me motivated and balanced.”

Scates, a junior, became the Tigers’ top deep threat in three games. As Memphis (2-1) hosts North Texas (2-2) on Saturday (2:30 p.m., ESPN+), the Iowa State transfer is averaging 50.3 yards on three catches thanks to two long touchdowns, including an 79-yard catch against Navy.

But it was his mum who planted the seeds of football and watered them by helping him manage his mental health. When Scates was 4, Hurt put him in a peewee league in Dayton, Ohio, despite his greatest love for basketball.

Memphis wide receiver Joseph Scates and his mother Jaunida Hurt when Scates played peewee football for the Dayton Flyers growing up in Ohio

Since he was taller than most kids, he lined up at nose guard or defensive end, which he played in college. He never played catcher until ninth grade when he played at a junior college.

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