Koo with the Atlanta Falcons in 2019
|No. 7 – Atlanta Falcons|
|Born:||August 3, 1994|
Seoul, South Korea
|Height:||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||185 lb (84 kg)|
(Ridgewood, New Jersey)
|* Offseason and/or practice squad member only|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics as of 2020|
|Player stats at PFR|
Younghoe Koo (Korean: 구영회; RR: Gu Yeonghoe; pronounced YOUNG-hweh; born August 3, 1994) is a South Korean American football 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, and received Pro Bowl honors in 2020.
Koo was born in Seoul, to Seungmae Choi and Hyunseo Koo. He played soccer growing up, and won a regional kicking competition. 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.
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.
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. At the conclusion of his college career, Koo ultimately converted 88.6% of his field goal attempts, a Georgia Southern team record.
Los Angeles ChargersEdit
Koo signed with the Los Angeles Chargers as an undrafted free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft. He won the starting job over incumbent kicker Josh Lambo following the conclusion of the preseason. 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. The kick had little chance of succeeding after Denver overwhelmed the Chargers' line on the play. An earlier attempt by Koo was successful, but it was called off after the Broncos had called a timeout right before the snap. The following week, Koo missed a game-winning 44-yard attempt in a 19–17 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
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. 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." "Koo's a very talented kicker," Novak said. "He's got a live leg and a lot of talent." Overall with the Chargers, Koo was 3-of-6 on field goals and recorded 8 touchbacks on 14 kickoffs. Frank Schwab of Yahoo Sports wrote that the winless Chargers were "using [Koo] as a scapegoat."
On January 14, 2019, Koo signed with the Atlanta Legends of the AAF. On February 9, he scored the first points in AAF regular season history, making a 38-yard field goal against the Orlando Apollos. 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. 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. The league ceased operations during midseason in April 2019. For the year, Koo had been a perfect 14-of-14 on his field goals.
New England PatriotsEdit
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. After longtime kicker Stephen Gostkowski was placed on injured reserve, the New England Patriots signed Koo to their practice squad on October 4, 2019. On October 15, 2019, Koo was released.
On October 29, 2019, Koo was signed by the Atlanta Falcons after they cut their longtime kicker and franchise leading scorer, Matt Bryant. 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. He was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance. 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. 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. For this performance, he was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for the second time.
On February 18, 2020, Koo signed a one-year contract extension with the Falcons. 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. 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. 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.
- "NFL 한국인 키커 구영회, 4경기만에 방출 조치". www.nocutnews.co.kr. October 6, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2019.
- 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.
- "Falcons' Younghoe Koo: Onside-kick master delivers again". Retrieved September 13, 2020.
- Conway, Kelsey. "Grady Jarrett, Younghoe Koo named to 2021 NFL Pro Bowl". Atlanta Falcons.
- "Younghoe Koo". gseagles.com. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
- Sullivan, Tara (May 11, 2017). "Sullivan: Former Ridgewood kicker Younghoe Koo pursuing NFL dream". Bergen Record. Archived from the original on September 3, 2017.
- 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.
- "5 things to know about new Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo". May 2, 2017.
- Sulivan, Tara. "Sullivan: Former Ridgewood kicker Younghoe Koo pursuing NFL dream", The Record (Bergen County), May 11, 2017. Accessed May 12, 2017.
- "Younghoe Koo - 2013 Football Roster - Georgia Southern Athletics". www.gseagles.com.
- "5 things to know about new Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo". May 2, 2017.
- Henne, Ricky (May 1, 2017). "Chargers Agree to Terms with 15 Undrafted Free Agents". Chargers.com. Retrieved May 28, 2017.
- Alper, Josh (September 2, 2017). "Chargers cut Josh Lambo, keep Younghoe Koo at kicker". profootballtalk.nbcsports.com. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
- Manza Young, Shalise (September 3, 2017). "Rookie Younghoe Koo wins Chargers kicking competition, continuing his fantastic story". Yahoo.com. Archived from the original on September 3, 2017.
- 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.
- 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.
- DiGiovanna, Mike (October 5, 2017). "Chargers waive rookie kicker Younghoe Koo and replace him with veteran Nick Novak". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 6, 2017.
- Henne, Ricky (October 5, 2017). "Chargers Sign Kicker Nick Novak; Waive Younghoe Koo". Chargers.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Williams, Eric D. (October 5, 2017). "Chargers give rookie Koo the boot, sign Novak". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Kyed, Doug (October 3, 2019). "NFL Rumors: Patriots Also Signing Kicker Younghoe Koo To Practice Squad". NESN.com. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
- Schwab, Frank (October 5, 2017). "Chargers move on quickly and cut rookie kicker Younghoe Koo". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Koo, Younghoe [@YounghoeKoo] (January 14, 2019). "Looking forward to this new @TheAAF opportunity. #enjoythejourney" (Tweet). Retrieved February 6, 2019 – via Twitter.
- "Two Former Eagle Players Make AAF Rosters". Georgia Southern Eagles. February 1, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
- Kercheval, Ben (February 9, 2019). "AAF Week 1 scores, highlights: Spurrier calls 'Philly Special' for TD, Orlando and San Antonio win openers". CBS Sports. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Gordon, Grant (March 3, 2019). "Younghoe Koo kicks Legends to first AAF victory". National Football League. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
- Garcia, Jeff (March 12, 2019). "Commanders QB Logan Woodside named AAF offensive player of the week". WOAI-TV. Retrieved March 12, 2019.
- Rothstein, Michael; Wickersham, Seth (June 13, 2019). "Inside the short, unhappy life of the Alliance of American Football". ESPN.com. Retrieved September 12, 2019.
- "Younghoe Koo: Won't sign with Chicago". CBSSports.com. April 10, 2019. Retrieved May 14, 2019.
- "Patriots Sign K Younghoe Koo to the Practice Squad". Patriots.com. October 4, 2019. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Cox, Zach (October 15, 2019). "Patriots Cut Quarterback Cody Kessler Amid Flurry Of Roster Moves". NESN.com. NESN. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- Conway, Kelsey (October 29, 2019). "Falcons cut longtime kicker Matt Bryant". AtlantaFalcons.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Urben, Matt (November 10, 2019). "Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo a perfect 6-for-6 in debut". Falcons Wire. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Bergman, Jeremy (November 13, 2019). "Jamal Adams, Jadeveon Clowney among Players of the Week". www.nfl.com. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
- White, R. J. (November 28, 2019). "Falcons convert back-to-back onside kicks as Saints caught sleeping on special teams". CBS Sports. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- Covert, Adrian (November 28, 2019). "The Falcons just proved the onside kick isn't as dead as we thought". New York Daily News. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- "Ryan leads Falcons to another big win over Panthers, 40-20". www.espn.com. Associated Press. December 8, 2019. Retrieved December 8, 2019.
- Gantt, Darin (December 11, 2019). "Younghoe Koo named NFC special teams player of the week". ProFootballTalk. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
- McFadden, Will (February 18, 2020). "Atlanta Falcons sign Younghoe Koo, Ryan Allen to one-year extensions". AtlantaFalcons.com. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
- "Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Vikings RB Dalvin Cook lead Players of the Month". NFL.com. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
- Worley, Deen. "Falcons K Younghoe Koo is the NFL's scoring leader". TheFalconsWire. USA TODAY Sports. Retrieved December 7, 2020.
- Goldman, Charles (December 29, 2020). "Did Chiefs' Tanoh Kpassagnon make game-winning play vs. Falcons?". Chiefs Wire. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
- "NFL reveals complete AFC, NFC rosters for 2021 Pro Bowl". NFL.com. Retrieved December 22, 2020.