Georgia Southern has a long history of having outstanding kickers beginning with Tim Foley who is considered to be the Godfather of Eagle kickers.
Foley had three field goals in the 1985 Division I-AA national championship game which was Georgia Southern’s first of six titles. He followed that up with a four field goal performance the following year in national championship number two.
He was followed by Max Dowis who without so much as breaking a sweat calmly kicked a 20-yard field goal to give the Eagles a 37-34 win over Stephen F. Austin in the 1989 national championship game at Paulson Stadium. It was Dowis’ third field goal of the game.
They were followed by the likes of Adrian Mora, David Cool, Reed Haley, Scott Shelton and now Younghoe Koo.
Koo set a new Georgia Southern record for most consecutive field goals made to start a season when he connected three times in last Saturday’s 22-19 win at New Mexico State. He broke Foley’s mark of 12 set in 1985.
“I know they’ve had a lot of good kickers here,” Mora said readily admitting he knew little about the history of Eagle kickers. “I know about Tim Foley because his picture is hanging in the Hall of Fame section.
“I wasn’t aware of his record until I was told after the game,” Koo said. “I’m just out there doing my best.”
Koo, of course, still has work to do as Foley, who owns the school record with a 61-yard field goal, made 19 straight over the 1985-86 seasons. And all Mora did was set an NCAA record with 151 straight extra points made.
Former coach Jeff Monken recruited Koo out of Ridgewood, N.J., quiet possible the first Eagle recruit from the Garden State.
“I had visited the University of Virginia and James Madison,” Koo said. “Coach Monken visited my high school, and I was really impressed with that.
“Head coaches don’t come to a kicker’s high school. Kickers are usually an after thought in recruiting, and a lot of them have to go somewhere as a walk on.”
A native of Seoul, South Korea, who came to the United States as a sixth-grader Koo was recruited hard by Monken and former Georgia Southern president Dr. Brooks Keel who took a great deal of delight in his role in the process.
As Monken and Keel told the story there were 12 Korean professors at Georgia Southern at the time, and Keel arranged for all of them to meet with Koo and his parents who are both university
It didn’t hurt that Eagle center Andy Kwon, also a native of Seoul who came to the U.S. in the seventh grade, was also present on that recruiting weekend.
“It was pretty impressive,” Koo said, “but when I set foot on the campus and met the players here I told my parents this was where I wanted to go. It felt like home from the very first day. It’s a great place.”
A logistics and intermodal transportation major Koo took to football right away after being introduced to it at lunch time recess.
“I knew nothing about football,” Koo recalled. “I didn’t know what a football looked like. I just started kicking it that first day and liked it.”
Koo also proudly points out that he was not just a soccer player turned kicker.
“I played it all, offense and defense,” said Koo who was a first team All-Northern New Jersey defensive back as a senior with 59 tackles, six interceptions, and nine pass deflections while scoring 151 points for his career.
Coach Tyson Summers learned to appreciate the value of a kicker in 2006 when he was an assistant coach on Brian Van Gorder’s staff, a year in which the Eagles went 3-8.
Eagle kickers missed nine field goals and five extra points that season as Georgia Southern lost five games by four points or less. In each loss an Eagle kicker missed an extra point or a field goal attempt from 35 yards or closer.