McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 11, 2012

Taeam Kang breaks the mold

By Matt Goisman
Sports Writer

McALESTER — At first glance, McAlester freshman Taeam Kang doesn’t look like a football player. He stands 5-foot-6 and weighs just 125 pounds. He plays tennis ... and classical piano. He takes all honors classes, including a pre-calculus course that would make older students quake with fear.

Kang moved to Oklahoma from Busan, South Korea, a country that’s produced exactly two native-born NFL players, according to pro-football-reference.com: John Minh Lee, kicker for the 1986 St. Louis Cardinals, and Hines Ward, 14-year Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, MVP of Super Bowl XL in 2006 and one of Kang’s favorite players.

Kang, meanwhile, had barely even played football until just a few days before the Buffaloes’ Week 2 game at Booker T. Washington.

“During pre-practice, my friend Mackie, he was kicking punts, so I went over there, because I played soccer, so I was curious what I could do,” Kang said Wednesday. “I was not very good. Coach (Bryan) Pratt just randomly told me to kick a field goal, I said ‘OK,’ so I kicked one.

“First one was just way off, and I said, ‘Maybe this isn’t my style.’ But Coach Pratt said, ‘Actually, give it another try.’ So I did, and it was just straight, right in the middle, looked good.”

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