AUBURN, Ala. — Highlights weren't hard to come by for Daniel Carlson last season.
Auburn's redshirt freshman converted 75 percent (18-for-24) of his field goal attempts, with a long of 51. On kickoffs, he averaged 62.7 yards every time his foot touched the ball, with 50 of his 81 tries ending in touchbacks. If that wasn't enough, he was pressed into duty as the Tigers' primary punter, averaging 42 yards per attempt. That workload as the No. 1 placekicker and punter made him the first Tiger to handle both responsibilities since Damon Duval did so in 2002.
And outside of Auburn, Carlson's efforts were recognized: he won two of the SEC's weekly awards — one for top freshman and the other for best special teams player — and earned an All-SEC honorable mention nod from the Associated Press.
But despite his many successes last season, likely the first image that comes to mind when Carlson's name is mentioned was the final play of Auburn's 2014 campaign.
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Trailing Wisconsin 34-31 in overtime and needing a field goal to push it to a second extra frame, Carlson's 45-yard attempt caromed off the right upright, handing Auburn's its fourth defeat in five games.
If that's the only thing people think about when his name is uttered, that's fine with Carlson.
It's all he's thought about, too.
"I’m trying to get over it. I don’t know, I don’t want to beat myself up any more than I need to, but I do keep it in the back of my mind," he said following last Saturday's scrimmage. "I make sure I work that much harder and prepare myself that much better."
Given time to reflect and watch film of it, Carlson believes he knows why he didn't send the ball through the uprights.
"I probably just didn't get my hips through quite enough," he said. "It’s the little things that hits it off the post. I (have) got to keep trying to work those fundamentals."
The missed kick was one of two that went awry in the Outback Bowl loss; on the flip side, the career-best 51-yarder he nailed came in that contest, too. Still, it's the one that ended the game that continues to eat away at him. But while he's constantly thinking about it, he's trying to make sure it's not in a strictly negative fashion.
"I’m trying to use that as kind of like a fuel to focus for next year and hopefully have that never happen again," he said. "You’re always going to miss some kicks here and there but you got to make the next one. That’s the most important thing for me is just (to) worry about that next kick."
And being able to focus solely on kicking has been a godsend.
"It’s nice to have that off my plate," he said of punting, which will fall on someone else's shoulders (and foot) next season. "I’m still working it a little bit. ... We’ll see how that plays out, but it’s nice to be able to focus more on field goals right now."
Zeroing in on kicking alone has apparently already paid off this spring: in the Tigers' first scrimmage, Carlson booted a 57-yard field goal.
"That felt nice," he said. "We’re just trying to find some new things now that I’m working just field goals (so) that we can see what we feel comfortable with."
Until next season arrives, Carlson won't get a chance to displace his Outback Bowl miss from people's memories. But one teammate was confident the Colorado native won't have any problem doing that this fall.
"Daniel is a champion," said Jonathan Wallace, a Central alum and special teams ace. "This spring Daniel has been making some tremendous kicks throughout practice. I’m just really excited to see what he’s doing to do this next year."