Falcons' Younghoe Koo faces redemption game, inspires others

Los Angeles Chargers trainer Anthony Lynn is not kicking himself for slicing unfastened one of the vital sport’s absolute best experts.

When his squad is going up towards the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, it will face former Chargers place-kicker Younghoe Koo, who has been just about absolute best this season and leads the NFL in scoring.

The Korean-born Koo is just a Falcon as a result of L.A. lower him after a troublesome, although very temporary, four-game stint again in 2017.

“I hate to chop any participant, particularly a productive participant, however it used to be time,” Lynn advised newshounds Friday. “He wanted a transformation of surroundings, and he is made essentially the most of it.”

Koo made 3 and neglected 3 kicks for the Chargers in 2017, however two of the ones misfires had been past due in high-profile video games.

Koo’s attainable 44-yard equalizer used to be blocked with a 2nd left in Denver, holding a 24-21 Monday evening victory for the Broncos in Week 1. Koo gave the impression to have kicked the tying box function, however then-Denver trainer Vance Joseph referred to as a timeout a second previous, nullifying the play and forcing some other take a look at.

Then lower than per week later, Koo neglected a 44-yarder with five seconds left, securing a 19-17 Miami Dolphins victory within the Chargers’ house opener. It used to be the Chargers’ first common season sport in L.A. County, following the group’s transfer from San Diego.

“I am satisfied for him. However with kickers, you spot that so much. … Infrequently [with] that 2nd or 3rd group, they mature and are available into their very own,” Lynn mentioned Friday.

“I do know once we had him right here, he did an impressive process in coaching camp, he gained the process, the blokes liked him,” Lynn mentioned. “He had a coarse begin to the season and it did not figure out. However he blocked out the noise, believed in himself and stored operating. And now he is one of the vital most sensible kickers within the sport. I take my hat off to him.”

The Falcons didn’t make Koo to be had for interviews this week forward of the sport towards the Chargers. Ultimate week, Koo used to be not anything however diplomatic when requested about his time with the Chargers: “The revel in with the Chargers in my rookie season used to be in reality an ideal revel in for me as a kicker and as an individual. That taught me so much on learn how to navigate my power and what to concentrate on.”

After the Chargers lower him, Koo did not get some other probability within the NFL till ultimate season, when the Georgia Southern alum connected with the Falcons and raised his sport. Koo has made all however one in all his 33 box function makes an attempt this season and used to be named NFC particular groups participant of the month ultimate week.

Alabama holder Woody Humphrey (2) raises his fingers in response to the sphere function simply kicked via Peter Kim (three) all the way through first quarter motion with Baylor within the Cotton Bowl sport in Dallas on Jan. 1, 1981.AP record

Blazing a path for different Asian American citizens

In his still-young profession, 26-year-old Koo is already head of a small elegance of Asian American place-kickers who’ve teed up on the perfect ranges of soccer.

The College of Alabama’s Peter Kim, the College of Hawaii’s Kenton Chun and Notre Dame’s Reggie Ho and Justin Yoon have all kicked for main Department I systems.

John Lee booted 85 box targets at UCLA and scored 390 issues in his profession between 1982 and 1985, which is within the most sensible two at school historical past in each classes. Lee used to be decided on in the second one spherical of the 1986 draft, strangely excessive for a kicker, and performed for the then-St. Louis Cardinals.

Ho, now a heart specialist at Thomas Jefferson College Medical institution in Philadelphia, mentioned the early 1980s legacy left via Kim and Lee impressed him to stroll on in South Bend and kick for the storied program.

“I believe my interest and pressure to make the group used to be all the time there, however what John Lee and Peter Kim did used to be give me hope that making the group used to be imaginable,” Ho advised NBC Information this week.

Ho is absolute best recognized for booting 4 box targets, together with the game-winner within the final moments, in a 19-17 Irish overcome Michigan in Notre Dame’s 1988 nationwide championship season.

“They had been the primary a success Asian kickers on nationally famend school groups, they usually prepared the ground for long term kickers like myself to make it onto the D-1 degree,” Ho mentioned of his Asian American position fashions.

Kim insisted he by no means confronted any racial animus taking part in in Tuscaloosa from 1980 to 1982, a trifling decade after the Red Tide suited up its first Black avid gamers.

His trailblazing trail used to be as Bama’s first “soccer-style” kicker in an technology when some place-kickers nonetheless took straight-on approaches to the ball, as an alternative of a sideways run-up that generates significantly extra energy.

Now that Koo has established himself as a bonafide NFL standout, Kim mentioned he hopes their small staff of Asian American avid gamers would possibly not be such an unique membership.

“You recognize, him [Koo] being within the NFL is a huge deal. He can affect and be a task type for most of the younger [Asian American] children who could not even take into consideration turning into a soccer participant,” Kim, who owns a sequence of eating places in Hawaii, advised NBC Asian The us.

“The children at the streets, perhaps this may increasingly give them a special viewpoint on lifestyles?” Kim mentioned. “They may be able to be a soccer participant, pass to university, get skilled. What extra will also be higher than being an American athlete in school?”

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