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The NFL's best origin story belongs to Younghoe Koo

Younghoe Koo currently owns several of the NFL's top kicking stats this season.

The Falcons star also currently owns an all-time origin story.

Koo, one of four Korean-Americans to ever play in the NFL, immigrated to Ridgewood, New Jersey at age 12. His football journey began before he learned to speak English.

He had won a soccer kicking competition back in Seoul. His new American classmates found out he could kick an oblong ball, too.

"During a lunch break, kids were playing two-hand-touch football," Koo told The Bill Simmons Podcast in 2017. "They said, 'Punt it,' because they knew I played soccer. And they saw me punt the ball and they were like, 'Oh man. Look at this kid! You should come out and play football with us.' And that's how I signed up for football."

By eighth grade, Koo was kicking footballs out of the end zone for Benjamin Franklin Middle School, according to this profile by North Jersey’s Tara Sullivan. He used the sport to learn the language, make friends and assimilate. When it came time to choose between high school soccer or football, Koo's father pushed for the latter.

"My middle school coach, my teammate's dad, came to my house and told my dad, 'He has a future in [football],'" Koo told Simmons. "Because my dad looked at it like I was just kicking a football. But my middle school explained to my dad, 'You can get a scholarship and you can have a future in this.'"

Coach was right; Koo landed a full scholarship to Georgia Southern University. There, he missed three field goals in 29 attempts and became a finalist for the Lou Groza Award.

He also shot this viral video that piqued the attention of NFL scouts.

Koo signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers in 2017, but was waived four games in for a veteran option. He then bounced from the Alliance of American Football's Atlanta Legends to the Patriots practice squad and, finally, the Falcons' 53-man roster last season.

Atlanta fans know the story from there. From the time Koo delivered two successful onside kicks on Thanksgiving 2019, the team knew it had a keeper.

There's a lot to upack here. In summary: Koo went from Korea to Georgia, then shot a viral kicking video that got him to California and back to Georgia in time to lead all pro kickers in made field goals (29), total points (109), and field goal percentage (96.7%) in 2020.

An even quicker summary goes like this: There might be equally improbable NFL journeys out there, but there aren't any better than Younghoe Koo's.

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