By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn's Daniel Carlson, who his coach calls the best kicker in America and a game-changer every Saturday, is again being recognized as one the best college players in the game.
Carlson was named as one of 20 semifinalists Thursday for the Lou Groza Award, which honors the nation's best kicker. Sound familiar? It should. Carlson was a finalist for the award last season.
"He's a weapon," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "You got confidence to let him kick it 50-plus."
Carlson has hit seven of his nine attempts from 50 or more yards during his career. He's hit a lot more than that.
Carlson tied Auburn and SEC records and scored all of the Tigers' points when he kicked six field goals in an 18-13 win over LSU on Sept. 24. He set an Auburn record for most points by a kicker when he scored 21 against Aransas State on Sept. 10.
He's hit 17 of 18 tries this season, including four at Ole Miss last weekend in the Tigers' 40-29 win. For that, he was named the Southeastern Conference special teams player of the week for the third time this season.
His 58 field goals in 2½ season trails only Wes Byrum at Auburn. Byrum hit 60 from 2007-10.
Carlson has also hit 130 on consecutive extra points and leads the nation in touchback percentage. Forty-four of his 49 kickoffs have in, mostly through, the end zone and not returned.
Eight of the 20 Groza semifinalist have made it this far before. The winner will be announced on ESPN at the Home Depot College Football Awards Show on Dec. 8.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine