In the month of November, Younghoe Koo drilled all 10 of his field goal attempts and all 8 of his extra point attempts, chipping in a special teams tackle. That was enough to get the rising star his first Special Teams Player of the Month award, a well-deserved honor for a player who has turned into one of the most reliable kickers in football.
Koo is the first Falcon to win this honor since Matt Bryant back in 2016. After going 23 for 26 on field goals and 15 for 16 on extra points after taking over the kicker gig partway through the season, Koo is currently 29 for 30 on field goals and 22 for 25 on extra points, and he’s also handled kickoffs throughout the year. With a less reliable kicker, the Falcons’ offensive woes would be even more magnified, as Koo has repeatedly ensured Atlanta got out of messy drives with points.
Koo has a remarkable story, which makes him even easier to root for. Like Matt Bryant, a journeyman who surprisingly was cut from the Buccaneers in 2008, Koo took a while to find a home and blossom into a terrific kicker. Like Bryant joining Atlanta in 2009 in relief of a struggling Jason Elam, Koo came in partway through a season and immediately improving a shaky kicking situation, except in Koo’s case he had to replace Bryant, the best kicker in team history. Unlike Bryant, Koo didn’t have years of experience to build on, but just a single four game run with the Chargers where he hit three field goals and missed three field goals from 40-49 yards. Teams had him in for tryouts—including the Falcons—and the Patriots even had him on their practice squad before he wound up in Atlanta.
Koo grew up in South Korea and chiefly played soccer before moving to the United States in middle school, learning to play English and joining his New Jersey high school football, becoming an ace kicker who was great at Georgia Southern and once recorded this jaw-dropping video. His strong college career got him a shot with the Chargers, but chances are fleeting for young kickers and it had to be discouraging to find himself a free agent after just four games. It was beyond fortunate for the Falcons and Koo alike that he landed in Atlanta, where he’s going to be a priority re-signing for this team and has a legitimate chance to settle in as the team’s kicker for the next decade. He is, after all, just 26 years old and on track to shatter every single season kicking record in Falcons history.
I have to imagine the journey makes this even sweet for Koo. Our congratulations on the honor and let’s hope he finishes the season with a second consecutive award for December.