Daniel Carlson was the special teams' MVP in Auburn's A-Day Game this spring
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ¯ Gus Malzahn doesn't want to tire out Daniel Carlson's leg, the one that kicks off, tries field goals and punts, but the redshirt freshman may be on his way to doing all three for Auburn this football season.
Daniel Carlson says no problem. He's ready.
"I've always liked to kick a lot," Carlson says. "Coaches have really had to keep an eye on me to make sure I don't over-kick because I've had that problem before. They've done a good job. I don't see that as a problem."
Signed as the field goal and kickoff guy, Carlson is in a race for the punting job as Auburn practices toward its opener against Arkansas on Aug. 30. He has some big cleats to fill no matter what job he ends up with.
Auburn punted 198 times, tried 53 field goals and kicked off 213 times the last three years. Steven Clark, the master of the drop-dead punt inside the 10, and Cody Parkey, who consistently boomed his kickoffs out the end zone, combined for all but two of them.
The punting race has come down to Carlson Jimmy Hutchinson and Matthew Shiel.
Carlson says he and special teams coach Scott Fountain figure he'll be in field goal range once Auburn hits the 38-yard line. That would be a 55-yard field goal. Carlson said he hit 50 and 53-yard field goals, back to back, in a practice this week.
"I feel comfortable. I have a big leg," Carlson said.
The punting would be a new twist, "which I obviously wasn't planning on doing."
"I've come a long way. I feel pretty good about it. We'll see what decisions the coaches make about it. I feel like with field goals and stuff, I've been hitting the ball really well."
Carlson was signed out Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, but he knows the state. He parents attended, yes, Alabama, and he has relatives in Birmingham.
He then found Auburn.
"I fell in love with the campus," Carlson said. "The coaching staff was great, but I knew Cody and Steven and the rest of the special teams here were going to be great. Now that Coach Malzahn and the staff are here, it's better than I could've hoped. I feel really blessed to be here."
Punters and kickers are often off by themselves at practice, knocking the ball around with their snappers or holders and an occasional lineman. But Malzahn has put his kickers in high-pressure situations in this preseason camp.
"It's always different when you got live bodies coming at you," Malzahn said. "Some people react in a good way. Some people react in not-so-good way. It's just feeling that real pressure of having people around, that's close to being blocked and everything that goes with that."
Carlson was known for his kickoffs and field goal, then added punting and dropped soccer his junior and senior years in high school.
"I've come a long way. I feel pretty good about it," Carlson said. "We'll see what decisions the coaches make about it.
"I've just got to keep working at it—watch my reps, take care of my legs and stay healthy. Obviously, I don't want to take anything away from field goal, and the coaches are big on that. I think I've done a good job of that and being smart with my leg while getting as much work as I can. I'm just trying to be the best at everything, basically. Hopefully I'll be able to get a shot and show it.
"Mentally, I've prepared for it. I think I could be a really good punter if I continue to work on it. I'm kind of taller, built like a punter. If I can connect well, I can drop some bombs, so we'll see what happens."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine