Hunkie Cooper

Hunkie Cooper – Early Life, Career

This post will walk you through the journey of Hunkie Cooper, a retired American football player and current Director of Football Player Development.


  • Born on May 17, 1969, in Palestine, Texas, USA
  • An alumnus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV)
  • Presently UNLV Rebels football team’s Director of Football Player Development

Let’s get down to business!

Who is Hunkie Cooper?

Hunkie Cooper, whose full name is Hernandez James, is a retired American football player who was a wide receiver and linebacker for the Arizona Rattlers. He played for the football team in the Arena Football League until he retired in 2005. Hunkie stands at 5’ 9” and weighs 190 pounds.

He is presently the UNLV Rebels’ Director of Football Player Development and is the former wide receivers coach for the San Diego State Aztecs.

Therefore, Hunkie’s career history covers as a football player and coach. He was only part of the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Rattlers football teams before he became a football coach.

Hunkie Cooper football

Hunkie has coached several collegiate and professional football teams, including Utah Blaze, the San Diego State Aztecs, the Pioneers at Canyon Springs High School, and the UNLV Rebels at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Personal Life (Early/recent)

Hunkie Cooper was born on May 17, 1969, in Palestine, Texas, USA. He is the youngest and shortest of nine children in his family. His father was a military veteran. He was named Hernandez due to an agreement between his father and his best friend before the Vietnam War. Both agreed to name their child after each other if either of them died during the war.

He attended Westwood High School in Palestine, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), where he earned a B.A. in Criminal Law and Education. During his high school days, he was a letterman in different sports, such as football, basketball, and baseball. He played quarterback in football.

Hunkie was part of the UNLV Rebels football program, where he was a two-time All-Big West Conference selection.

He is married to Tiffany for nearly three decades and has six children together: Nigel, Dirik, Simone, Brianna, A.J., and Destini. He resides in North Las Vegas, Nevada.


Hunkie Cooper started his football career playing at Navarro College, Texas, leading the Bulldogs to a NJCAA national championship in 1989. He later transferred to UNLV, where he played six different positions. Hunkie was undrafted in 1991.

He attempted to play in the Canadian Football League but didn’t get a chance. Not long after, the Director of Player Personnel for the Arizona Rattlers, Pete Kettela, asked him if he wanted to sign a contract with the team.

Hunkie arrived at the team’s camp as a fourth-string receiver but hastily rolled up the depth chart. He led the Rattlers to participate in their first ArenaBowl championship game, which they won 36–31. In 1997, he led the team to win another ArenaBowl, making him voted as Ironman of the game.

The Arizona Rattlers cut him in 2005, and he decided to retire. He eventually retired from playing football on May 6, 2005.

Hunkie Cooper American football

Hunkie ended his career with the following records:

  • Receiving yards – 8,559
  • Receptions – 776
  • Touchdowns – 205
  • Fumble recoveries – 11
  • Forced fumbles – 7

He became a coach a year later, in 2006.

Hunkie Cooper was a Wide Receivers and Linebackers coach for Utah Blaze in the 2006 season. He was an assistant coach at Canyon Springs High School, LV. Hunkie became the team’s defensive coordinator in the 2007 season but was demoted to Defensive Backs Coach when the team hired a new head coach, Ron James. He was relieved from coaching when Utah Blaze started the season 0–5.

In 2009, Hunkie became the head coach at Canyon Springs HS. He was also an assistant coach at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas.

In January 2015, San Diego State University hired him as their wide receivers coach but sacked him about eight years later, in January 2023.

Bare two months later on March 1, 2023, he became the Director of Football Player Development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Hunkie Cooper’s Awards and Recognitions

Here’s a list of Hunkie’s recognitions and awards throughout his career as a football player and coach:

  • 2012 – AFL 25 Greatest Players – #5
  • Inducted in 2011 – AFL’s Hall of Fame
  • 2006 – AFL 20 Greatest Players – #5
  • 2001 – AFL Second Team 15th Anniversary Team
  • 1999, 2000 – Two-time All-Ironman Team
  • 1999, 2000 – Two-time AFL Ironman of the Year
  • 1997, 1999 – Two-time Second Team All-Arena
  • 1993, 1995, 1996, 2000 – four-time First Team All-Arena
  • 1993 – AFL MVP

Related: Vantrel McMillan: Biography of a Black American Football Player.

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Also Read: Kobe Smith – Personal Life and Career.

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