Hunkie Cooper

Last updated
Hernandez Cooper
San Diego State Aztecs
Position: Wide receivers coach
Personal information
Born: (1969-05-17) May 17, 1969 (age 51)
Palestine, Texas
Height:5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school: Westwood
(Palestine, Texas)
College: UNLV
Undrafted: 1991
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career Arena statistics
Passing yards-TDs:75-8
Player stats at

Hernandez James "Hunkie" Cooper (born May 17, 1969) is a former American football Wide receiver and linebacker who played for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League until his retirement in 2005. He is currently the wide receivers coach for the San Diego State Aztecs football team. He is a two time recipient of the Ironman of the Year award and was voted league MVP in 1993.


Early life

Hunkie Cooper was the son of a military veteran and the youngest, and shortest, of 9 children. He received the name Hernandez from a pact his father had made to his best friend prior to the Vietnam War. The pact they made said that if either were to die, the other would name his next child after him. [1]

High school years

Cooper attended Westwood High School in Palestine, Texas and was a student and a letterman in football, basketball, and baseball. In football, he played quarterback.

College years

Hunkie went on to play at Navarro College in Texas where he led the Bulldogs to a NJCAA national championship in 1989. He soon transferred to University of Nevada, Las Vegas. At UNLV, he played six different positions, and he was a two-time All-Big West Conference selection. In a dramatic beginning to D1 Football in Hunkie's first game for Head Coach Jim Strong's UNLV Rebel's he scored Four Touchdowns from all over the field in the season opener verses Southwest Missouri. As a punt returner during his senior season he was selected as an All-American. He received a B.A. in Criminal Law and Education in 1991.

Professional career

Arizona Rattlers

After his time at UNLV, Hunkie believed his football career was over, so he took a job at a Las Vegas area casino. He tried playing in the Canadian Football League, but was not very successful. One day at work, Arizona Rattlers Director of Player Personnel Pete Kettela asked him if he would like to sign a contract with the Rattlers organization.


Cooper arrived at camp as a fourth string receiver but quickly worked his way up the depth chart. By the end of the year he was selected as the league MVP, and an all-star as an Offensive Specialist while breaking the AFL record for kickoff return yards with 1423 yards.

In 1994, Cooper helped take the team to their first ArenaBowl appearance, which they won 36–31.

In 1996, a year after making the transition to a two way receiver and linebacker, he was selected as an all star once again.

In 1997, Cooper was a second team all star selection. He helped lead the team to their second ArenaBowl win and was voted as Ironman of the game after catching a 30-yard touchdown pass, returning a kick for a touchdown, and returning an interception for a touchdown.


He was voted Tinactin Ironman of the Year, Second Team All-Arena - WR/LB, and All-Ironman Team in 1999. He was again voted Tinactin Ironman of the Year, First Team All-Arena - WR/LB, and All-Ironman Team - WR/LB, in 2000.

In 2001, he was again selected to the All-Ironman Team - WR/LB and for the first time was a First Team member of the 15th Anniversary Team - WR/LB.


On March 20, 2002, Cooper re-signed with the Rattlers. [2] He helped lead the team to three consecutive appearances in the ArenaBowl.

Cooper began the 2005 season on Injured Reserve, missing the first two games of the season with a quadriceps injury. He soon retired after being cut.


After being cut by the Rattlers in 2005, he decided to retire. [3] On May 6, 2005, the Arizona Rattlers retired his #14. [4] Cooper was elected into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in the 2011 class. [5]


Cooper is one of only two players to earn both AFL MVP (1993) and Ironman of the Year awards (1999, 2000) in a career. He is also one of two players to earn Ironman awards twice. He finished his career as Arizona's all-time leader in receiving yards (8,559), receptions (776), forced fumbles (7), fumble recoveries (11) and touchdowns (205). Cooper is also the Arena Football League's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage (20,587) and kickoff returns (500). [6]

Coaching career

Utah Blaze

2006 season

He later became a wide receivers/linebackers coach for the Utah Blaze under his former coach Danny White.

2007 season

In 2007, Cooper was the defensive coordinator for the Blaze.

2008 season

In 2008, Cooper was demoted to defensive backs coach under new Blaze head coach Ron James. After the Blaze started the season 0–5, Cooper was relieved of his coaching duties. [7]

High school coaching

While coaching with the Utah Blaze, Hunkie also served as an assistant coach with Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas. In 2009 Hunkie was named the head coach at Canyon Springs High School and was also named Coach of the Year. He also served as an assistant coach at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.

San Diego State

In January 2015, Cooper was hired as the wide receivers coach at San Diego State University. [8]


Cooper resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Hunkie is married to his wife, Tiffany and has six children: Nigel (23), Dirik (22), Simone (21), Brianna (15), A.J. (14), and Destini (11).

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  1. Mike Readling (June 19, 2003). "What's in a name? A whole lot". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  2. "Arena Football League Transactions". OurSports Central. March 20, 2002. Retrieved July 22, 2017.
  3. Darren Urban (January 23, 2005). "Cooper's stellar career with Rattlers to end". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  4. Darren Urban (May 6, 2005). "Rattlers to honor former star at halftime ceremony". East Valley Tribune. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  5. Richard Obert (August 12, 2011). "Hunkie Cooper, Kurt Warner elected to AFL Hall of Fame". Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  7. Loren Jorgensen (April 2, 2008). "Utah Blaze: Winless Blaze release D-backs coach". Deseret News. Retrieved September 17, 2013.
  8. Ray Brewer (January 24, 2015). "Hunkie Cooper moves on to SDSU, but heart remains at Canyon Springs". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved January 28, 2015.