Hernandez "Hunkie" Cooper
Date of birth: (1969-05-17) May 17, 1969 (age 51)
Place of birth: Palestine, Texas
Career information
Position(s): WR / LB
Height: 5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
College: UNLV
 As player:
1993–2005 Arizona Rattlers
Career highlights and awards
Awards: 1993 MVP, Ironman of the Year 1999,2000
Honors: 15th Anniversary team, top twenty AFL players all time list
Retired #s: 14

Hernandez James Cooper (born May 17, 1969 in Palestine, Texas) is a former American football receiver and linebacker who played for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League until his retirement in 2005. 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 5 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.

Arena Football League career

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.


Hunkie 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. This was all after he broke the AFL record for kickoff return yards with 1423 yards.


Hunkie helped take the team to their first ArenaBowl appearance,which they won 36-31. His Daughter Brianna (Now 15 years of age) was born in October.


After a great year he was again selected as an all-star specialist.


A year after making the transition to a two way receiver and linebacker, he was selected as an all star once again. His son Austin (Now 14 years of age) was born in January


Hunkie 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.


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


Once again he was 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.


He helped lead the team to three consecutive appearances in the ArenaBowl.


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


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).[2]


After being cut by the Rattlers in 2005, he decided to retire. On May 6, 2005, the Arizona Rattlers retired his #14.

He later became an assistant coach for the Utah Blaze under his former coach Danny White. 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).


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.

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