Spirit of Wonder in Alumni: Ricky Hunley ’87

Fall 2023
Photo of Arizona football's defensive line coach Ricky Hunley

Photo provided by Arizona Athletics

RICKY HUNLEY ’87 brings Wildcat spirit, Super Bowl experience and wisdom to the Wildcats.

“That old Chinese proverb just rings in my ear: ’You cannot taste my tea until you first empty your cup,’” says the former Wildcat linebacker and Super Bowl veteran.

“A lot of kids will come with their minds made up about what they think they know,” he says. “But really, they don’t know squat. So you kind of break them down. You say, ’Hey, if you’re going to be a part of this, you got to do it this way.’” And the way he sees it, a player can’t be at home on the football field until he’s at home with himself.

Hunley returned to the University of Arizona in 2021 after a successful NFL career. “This is where it all started, and it took me 39 years to get back,” he says.

The consensus All-American racked up 560 tackles playing for the Wildcats from 1980-83 under head coach Larry Smith. In 1984, Hunley was drafted seventh overall by the Cincinnati Bengals, and he would go on to play seven seasons with the Denver Broncos, the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Raiders. He helped take the Broncos to the Super Bowl in 1987 and 1988.

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