Younghoe Koo’s journey from Atlanta Legends to Atlanta Falcons Legend

9531912220008 jac at atl

Younghoe was actually a classmate of mine while I was doing my undergrad at Georgia Southern. While he was always a quiet guy, he made a lot of noise for the Eagles. In his senior year, Koo knocked 19 of 20 field goals through, including a long of 53 yards. His 85 total points and 2nd highest 95% FG percentage got him a nod as a finalist for the Lou Groza Award given to the best college kicker. While Tyler Bass has had a lot of success in Buffalo, Koo is slowly becoming one of the best kickers in the NFL and a real weapon for the Falcons (especially with Dirk Koetter’s Red Zone ineptitude)

Koo won the hearts of fans with his onside kick magic in a forgettable 2019 season. I was in attendance for an otherwise dreadful game against the Saints last Thanksgiving in which he converted THREE onside kicks in one game and had one called back by penalty. He converted another this season in a loss to Seattle in Week 1. Now, he’s posting the best numbers in the game as a kicker and could be on his way to a Pro Bowl.

His success story is even more unlikely when you consider his path to the Falcons. Koo was an UDFA signed by the Chargers in 2017, and his time there was short-lived. He actually won the job over elite special teamer Josh Lambo, but he had some missteps along the way. Koo had a 44-yarder blocked on a game-tying field goal against Denver, then he missed a game-winner against Miami the very next week. He was waived after Week 4, and just like so many NFL Kickers, his career could have been over. Koo signed with the now-defunct Atlanta Legends of the AAF — where he went 14-14 on an otherwise terrible squad — before he was picked up by the Pats after the AAF folded and was released off the practice squad after about a week.

Enter the Falcons.

Koo was brought in after — to the dismay of many fans — Money Matt Bryant was released. The Georgia Southern product had big shoes to fill with the franchise’s leading scorer gone, but he’s made the most of his opportunity. Koo had a rocky start to his career, but with Atlanta, he’s been fantastic. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after drilling four long field goals in a sweet 26-9 victory over the Saints in the Superdome and was named Special Teams Player of the Week AGAIN in Week 14 versus Carolina after nailing four more field goals (including a then career-long 50 yarder) and recovering a fumble. He’s been even better in 2020.

Koo is currently on a one year contract, but he’s been the best kicker in the NFL this season by a long shot. Kicker is an area that’s often overlooked, but 6-6 (knock on wood) from 50+ is incredible. 88.5% on FGs in 2019 was pretty good, but his 96.7% this season is elite. Koo has missed three extra points — one of them being costly in the now infamous Bears game. However, setting a career-high 54-yarder against Las Vegas was really impressive, and he had plenty of room to spare. Younghoe’s journey to Atlanta has been a strange and trying one, but I’m overjoyed to have my former classmate in the red and black. Hopefully, Atlanta can lock him up going forward to continue solidifying a special teams unit with a promising punter in Sterling Hofrichter.

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