Younghoe Koo: The Asian Sensation


Ian Kim, Staff Writer

“Have you heard of Younghoe Koo?” my dad exclaimed to me a couple of weeks before the 2020 NFL season started. Of course I had. Koo had gained some attention the past season simply for his seemingly comical name (it’s actually pronounced YOUNG-hweh, or “young”-“way”). However, just to focus on his name would be immensely disrespectful compared to how good of a player he has been.

Koo has been nothing short of spectacular in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons. The Ridgewood High School (NJ) alum has been a professional football placekicker since 2017 when he was signed by the Los Angeles Chargers after going undrafted. After bouncing around a few teams, he found himself a starting spot on the Falcons in Week 10 against the New Orleans Saints. After going 4/4 on field goal attempts, as well as 2/2 on PAT attempts during that game, Koo started a hot streak that he has continued to this day. In his time at the Falcons so far, he has played 23 games and has gone 60/65 on field goal attempts and 48/52 on PAT attempts. The placekicker had an incredible 2020-2021 campaign: scoring 144 total points, which was tied for a league-high along with Daniel Carlson (LV) and Jason Sanders (MIA). On top of this, he also had the most field goals made out of any placekicker this past season. Koo had these league-high marks only playing 15 games, 1 game less than the other two placekickers mentioned. To cap his season off, Koo was named to his first career Pro Bowl, a special game that players are voted into by the coaches, players, and the fans. Each entity mentioned holds one-third of the voting power, making Koo’s place in the Pro Bowl show that his excellence was acknowledged by everyone involved in the NFL. 

Asian representation in major sports leagues has been something that has been severely lacking, however, Koo–being South Korean–has proved to show that Asians can play major sports at the highest level and look good while doing so. Just looking at his build and mass, he doesn’t even look like an average kicker. He is 5’10” and 185 lbs, however just looking at one picture can show how big of a frame Koo has, especially compared to other kickers. He also has a great sense of fashion off the field, making his overall appearance to the public appealing. 

Younghoe Koo being interviewed on the show Good Morning Football

Off the field, Koo has been extremely competent at handling the press and expressing who he is through his interviews. “I just focused on what I have to control. That’s what it comes to, just doing my job,” Koo said in an interview with Action Sports and News after his great debut game with the Falcons. After going 100% on all kicks that day, that’s an extremely humble statement. “I’m grateful. I’m thankful for the coaches that believed in me,” Koo said in a different interview with Good Morning Football. Through other interviews and social media posts, Koo has shown that he is the perfect candidate to inspire Asians everywhere, whether it be for football, other sports, or anything else that requires a lot of hard work. Koo has recently signed a new one-year, $920,000 deal with the Atlanta Falcons, giving him a chance to continue to break barriers in the NFL and be a true trailblazer. Millions of Asians–including my dad and me–are looking forward to seeing more Asians, like Koo, triumph on the football field.