Younghoe Koo
refer to caption
Koo with the Atlanta Falcons in 2021
No. 7 – Atlanta Falcons
Position:Placekicker
Personal information
Born: (1994-08-03) August 3, 1994 (age 28)
Seoul, South Korea
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Ridgewood (Ridgewood, New Jersey)
College:Georgia Southern
Undrafted:2017
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of 2021
Field goals made:90
Field goals attempted:100
Field goal percentage:90.0
Longest field goal:54
Touchbacks:92
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Younghoe Koo (Korean구영회; RRGu Yeonghoe;[1] pronounced YOUNG-hweh;[2] born August 3, 1994) is a South Korean gridiron placekicker for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL). He began his professional career with the Los Angeles Chargers in 2017, but was released four weeks into the season after missing consecutive game-ending kicks. Following a year away from football, Koo played for the Atlanta Legends of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), where he scored the first points in league history and converted all of his kicks until the AAF indefinitely suspended operations. This success led to Koo's NFL return with the Falcons the same year. Koo is known for his ability to successfully execute onside kicks, a reputation he developed as a member of the Falcons,[3] and received Pro Bowl honors in 2020.[4] He is also the NFL's third-most accurate placekicker.[5]

Early life

Koo was born in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to Seungmae Choi and Hyunseo Koo.[6] He played soccer growing up and won a regional kicking competition.[7] He attended sixth grade in the United States after moving to New Jersey to live with his mother, who had gone to the country two years earlier to become a nurse while Koo's father remained in Seoul as a university professor.[8]

Koo played on the football team for Ridgewood High School in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He was named team MVP his senior season, contributing on both special teams and defense, where he tallied six interceptions.[9][10]

College career

Koo was a four-year contributor for the Georgia Southern Eagles, earning first-team all-conference honors in the Sun Belt Conference in his final season, during which he converted 19 of 20 field goal attempts. Koo was also named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, given annually to the best college kicker in the nation.[11] At the conclusion of his college career, Koo ultimately converted 88.6% of his field goal attempts, a Georgia Southern team record.[12]

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash
5 ft 10 in
(1.78 m)
194 lb
(88 kg)
29+14 in
(0.74 m)
9 in
(0.23 m)
4.87 s
All values from NFL Combine[13]

Los Angeles Chargers

2017 season

Koo signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft.[14] He won the starting job over incumbent kicker Josh Lambo following the conclusion of the preseason.[15] Koo became the fourth player in NFL history to have been born in South Korea.[a]

In the 2017 season opener on the road against the Denver Broncos, Koo's game-tying 44-yard field goal attempt in the final seconds of the game was blocked by the Broncos' Shelby Harris, and the Chargers lost 24–21.[17] The kick had little chance of succeeding after Denver overwhelmed the Chargers' line on the play.[18] An earlier attempt by Koo was successful, but it was called off after the Broncos had called a timeout right before the snap.[17] The following week, Koo missed a game-winning 44-yard attempt in a 19–17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.[18]

The following two weeks, Koo converted both of his field goal attempts and all four of his extra points. However, the 0–4 Chargers waived him after Week 4, replacing him with 10-year veteran Nick Novak. Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn stated that he wanted "someone with a little more consistency and experience" than Koo.[19][20] Lynn added that "I think Koo is going to have a long NFL career ... A lot of rookies get cut early in their career, and they come back and play for a lot of years."[21] "Koo's a very talented kicker," Novak said. "He's got a live leg and a lot of talent."[21] Overall with the Chargers, Koo was 3-of-6 on field goals and recorded 8 touchbacks on 14 kickoffs.[22] Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports wrote that the winless Chargers were "using [Koo] as a scapegoat."[23]

Atlanta Legends

On January 14, 2019, Koo signed with the Atlanta Legends of the AAF.[24][25] On February 9, he scored the first points in AAF regular season history, making a 38-yard field goal against the Orlando Apollos.[26] After the Legends started the 2019 AAF season 0–3, on March 3, Koo kicked two field goals, including the 33-yard game winner, against the Arizona Hotshots to seal the 14–11 Atlanta win.[27] The following week against the Memphis Express, he made all three of his attempts, including the game-winning 35-yard field goal with nine seconds remaining to secure a 23–20 victory, and was eventually named AAF Special Teams Player of the Week.[28] The league ceased operations during midseason in April 2019.[29] For the year, Koo had been a perfect 14-of-14 on his field goals.[22]

New England Patriots

Following the suspension of the AAF, Koo worked out with the Chicago Bears, who were in need of a kicker after releasing Cody Parkey, but did not end up signing with the team.[30] After longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve, the New England Patriots signed Koo to their practice squad on October 4, 2019.[31] On October 15, 2019, Koo was released.[32]

Atlanta Falcons

2019 season

Koo in 2019
Koo in 2019

On October 29, 2019, Koo was signed by the Atlanta Falcons after they cut their longtime kicker and franchise leading scorer, Matt Bryant.[33] In his Falcons debut, Koo made all four of his field goals (including a 48-yarder) and both of his extra points in a 26–9 upset win over the New Orleans Saints.[34] He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance.[35] In Week 13 against the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving Day, Koo delivered three successful onside kicks, one of which was undone by a penalty, in the 26–18 loss.[36][37] In Week 14 against the Carolina Panthers, Koo made four field goals (including a then career-long 50-yarder), four extra points, and recovered a fumble forced by teammate Damontae Kazee on wide receiver Greg Dortch during a kickoff return in the 40–20 win.[38] For this performance, he was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time.[39]

2020 season

On February 18, 2020, Koo signed a one-year contract extension with the Falcons.[40] In Week 2 against the Dallas Cowboys, Koo made all four of his field goal attempts, and all three of his extra points in the 39–40 loss. In Week 5 against the Carolina Panthers, Koo made both of his field goal attempts (including a career-long 54-yarder), in the 16-23 loss. In Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings, Koo went 4-for-4 on field goals, as well as 4-for-4 on extra points, in the 40–23 win. In Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers, Koo made all four of his field goal attempts in the 25–17 win. In Week 12 against the Las Vegas Raiders, Koo made a career-high 5 field goals in the 43–6 blowout win. For his efforts in the month of November, Koo was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month.[41] Koo became the NFL's leading scorer following Week 13, having made 32 of 33 field goals and 23 extra points for a total of 119 points.[42] In Week 16 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Koo missed a game-tying 39-yard field goal in the 14–17 loss after the ball was tipped by the Chiefs' Tanoh Kpassagnon.[43]

On December 20, 2020, Koo was selected to his first Pro Bowl.[44] He signed a contract extension with the Falcons on March 11, 2021.[45]

2021 season

In Week 3, Koo made a game winning 40-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the New York Giants 17–14.[46] Koo made another game-winning field goal in Week 7 against the Miami Dolphins to give the Falcons a 30–28 win as time expired.[47] Koo made his third game-ending field goal of the season in a 27–25 Week 9 road win over the New Orleans Saints.[48]

2022 season

On March 15, 2022, Koo signed a five-year, $24.25 million contract extension with the Falcons.[49]

NFL career statistics

Legend
Led the league
Bold Career high

Regular season

Year Team GP Field Goals Extra Points Total Points
FGM FGA FG% <20 20−29 30−39 40−49 50+ Lng XPM XPA XP%
2017 LAC 4 3 6 50.0 0–0 2–2 0–0 1–4 0–0 41 9 9 100.0 18
2019 ATL 8 23 26 88.5 0–0 6–6 9–10 7–9 1–1 50 15 16 88.5 84
2020 ATL 15 37 39 94.9 0–0 10–10 11–12 8–9 8–8 54 33 36 94.9 144
2021 ATL 17 27 29 93.1 0-0 8-8 9-9 6-7 4-5 54 30 30 100.0 111
Total 44 90 100 90.0 0–0 26-26 29-31 22-29 13-14 54 87 91 95.6 357

Notes

References

  1. ^ "NFL 한국인 키커 구영회, 4경기만에 방출 조치". www.nocutnews.co.kr. October 6, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
  2. ^ Ledbetter, D. Orlando (November 4, 2019). "Falcons' Koo found his way from South Korea to the NFL". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  3. ^ "Falcons' Younghoe Koo: Onside-kick master delivers again". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  4. ^ Conway, Kelsey. "Grady Jarrett, Younghoe Koo named to 2021 NFL Pro Bowl". Atlanta Falcons.
  5. ^ "NFL Field Goal % Career Leaders (since 1938)". pro-football-reference.
  6. ^ "Younghoe Koo". gseagles.com. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Sullivan, Tara (May 11, 2017). "Sullivan: Former Ridgewood kicker Younghoe Koo pursuing NFL dream". Bergen Record. Archived from the original on September 3, 2017.
  8. ^ Yu, Brendan (June 14, 2017). "This Korean-Born Kicker Is Fighting for a Spot on the LA Chargers". NBCNews.com. Archived from the original on July 11, 2017.
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  11. ^ "Younghoe Koo - 2013 Football Roster - Georgia Southern Athletics". www.gseagles.com.
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  17. ^ a b Wang, Jack (September 11, 2017). "Chargers' comeback falls short as blocked field goal seals 24-21 loss to Broncos". Los Angeles Daily News. Archived from the original on September 12, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Sherman, Rodger (September 17, 2017). "This Time, the Missed Game-Winning Kick Is Younghoe Koo's Fault". The Ringer. Archived from the original on October 6, 2017.
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