Falcons Kicker Younghoe Koo took the NFL by storm last year, posting a career best 94.9% field goal percentage which earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl. Younghoe Koo is also arguably the best in the league at kicking onside kicks; 3 out of his 5 onside kicks over the past 2 years have resulted in a Falcons possession (60% success rate). To put this into perspective, the success rate for onside kicks in the 2020-2021 NFL season was only 4.23%. What many people don’t know, however, is that Koo graduated from Ridgewood High School in 2013.
In 6th grade Koo immigrated to the United States from South Korea with his mother without knowing any English. He knew nothing about American football, as he had enjoyed playing soccer in Korea. In 7th grade, his friend encouraged him to try football at recess. He kicked the ball off to start the game, launching the ball over the fence. Ever since, Koo left soccer in the past. In his freshman year at RHS, Koo took over kicking for the injured Richardson Dudley and was perfect in kicking 6 PAT’s and one field goal. Koo eventually became a star cornerback, wide receiver, and kicker for Ridgewood earning team MVP honors his senior year.
Koo is currently one of the best kickers in the NFL, but this wasn’t always the case. After being named first team all-conference with Georgia Southern, Koo signed with the LA Chargers in 2017 as an undrafted free agent. The same day he made the roster, Koo went viral after a video surfaced of him doing a backflip then kicking a field goal. In his first season with the Chargers Koo made just 3 out of his 6 kicks, missing both a potential game-tying and game-winning field goal. He was eventually cut from the roster, and began to question his chances at playing in the NFL. After brief stints with the Alliance of American Football league and the New England Patriots, Koo signed with the Falcons. He proved in just his first game with the Falcons that he belonged in the NFL. In Koo’s debut against the Saints, he made all 4 of his field goals(including a 48 yarder) and was named NFC special teams player of the week.
And since then, Koo has had great success and been honored multiple times in the league. Younghoe Koo, RHS graduate, is still kicking for the Falcons and pursuing his dream of playing in the NFL.
Graphic: Isabella Harelick