Nov. 9, 2009
Kansas City, Mo. - With the eye-catching numbers he has amassed over his career, it's safe to say that Shorter College senior fullback A.J. Cooley is arguably the best player to ever put on a pair of shoulder pads and helmet for the Hawks.
Last week, there was no question as to who was the nation's top offensive player.
Cooley, the Hawks' all-time leading rusher and holder of every conceivable rushing record at Shorter, has been named the NAIA Football National Offensive Player of the Week as announced Monday afternoon by the NAIA offices in Kansas City, Mo.
This is the second National Player of the Week honor for Cooley, who garnered the award for the first time last season after he ran for a then-school record 249 yards and four TDs against NCAA Division II North Greenville.
Cooley set a new school record with 254 yards and four touchdowns in Shorter's 55-42 triumph over Belhaven College last Saturday, upping his Mid-South leading rushing total to 1,310 yards and his league-high rushing touchdown count to 17.
With that performance, Cooley now has 3,992 yards rushing for his career, and needs just eight yards in the Hawks' 2009 finale against Bethel on Saturday at Barron Stadium at 1:30 p.m. to reach 4,000 for his career.
Cooley scored on runs of one, two, five and 66 to help Shorter score the win over Belhaven.
The list of accomplishments that Cooley has compiled is impressive to say the very least.
In addition to his single-game rushing record, Cooley set a new record for single-game carries with 40 against Union (Ky.) College on Oct. 24. His four TDs against the Blazers tied the single-game record in that category - one that he set with his quartet of touchdowns against North Greenville last season - and his 99-yard touchdown run against North Greenville on Oct. 18, 2008 stands as the longest run from scrimmage in school history.
Cooley rushed for 1,558 yards in 2008 - a Shorter record - and crossed the goal line 21 times as well, best all-time.
His career numbers are almost laughable, considering he has been a regular starter for just a little more than two years out of his four-year tenure.
Cooley's career line of 717 carries, 3,992 yards and 50 rushing touchdowns - all are Shorter records - speak to his durability, reliability, toughness, and talent, not to mention his big play ability; Cooley is averaging an amazing 5.6 yards per carry for his career.
This season, Cooley has added another dimension to his arsenal: that of kick off return specialist. Cooley ranks No. 1 in the NAIA in kick off returns yards per attempt, chewing up 33.3 yards per return.
Cooley and the remaining 18 Shorter seniors will play in their final game on Saturday as the Hawks host Senior Day.
Cooley will join fellow senior Logan Lollis as a guest on "Hawk Talk," which will air at 12 noon on Saturday on 95.7 WATG-FM The Ridge as part of the Shorter football pregame show. Fans can listen to the interviews by tuning to 95.7 FM or by accessing the live webcast available via the Shorter College athletic website.