Auburn coach Gus Malzahn calls Daniel Carlson the best kicker in the country. Carlson is close to backing up his coach’s words with some hardware.
The sophomore was named as one of the three finalists for the Lou Groza Award Tuesday afternoon, the award given out annually to the nation’s top kicker.
Carlson has tried to downplay his individual success while the Tigers have struggled offensively, but continues to kick his way through the program’s record book.
“It really doesn’t matter right now,” Carlson said. “I’m just doing what I can to help the team right now. I’m not worried about any records or awards or anything. I’m just worried about the next kick and worried about what I can do to help the team.”
With one regular season game to play, Carlson already set a new school record this season with four 50-plus yard field goals. His current streak of 14 consecutive field goals is also a new school record.
He is 20 of 23 on the year and 35 of 35 on extra points.
On kickoffs, Carlson has been equally successfully putting 43 of his 59 kicks into the end zone for touchbacks. His 72.88 percent touchback ratio is fifth best in the country.
After a 26-10 win over Texas A&M, Carlson was named a Lou Groza star of the week in early November for kicking four field goals (35, 31, 30, 21 and 20 yards).
Carlson’s competition for the award is Memphis junior Jake Elliott and UCLA senior Ka’imi Fairbairn.
Elliott is leading the country with a 76.74 touchback percentage and 22 of 26 on field goals.
Fairbairn has a 73.33 touchback percentage and is 20 of 22 on field goals. His most notable moment this season is a school record 60-yard field goal against Cal. It was the longest kick in college football since 2012.
The winner of the award will be announced at the Lou Groza Awards Banquet on Monday, Dec. 7 in West Palm Beach, Florida.