War Eagle Extra

Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson announces return for senior year in low-key fashion

Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson couldn’t ignore his heart.

The junior spent the team’s extended downtime this month weighing a possible NFL future.

As a potential day two pick — ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. gave Carlson a second-round draft grade in early December — Carlson had to decide if he wanted to forgo his senior season.

Carlson maintained he was leaning towards staying on the Plains throughout the entire process, but he made it official Thursday after Auburn’s second practice in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.

“It was more just checking my options and stuff,” Carlson said. “But I think my heart is definitely towards coming back. That’s what I’ve been really working on and praying a lot about the last couple of weeks, so I’ll be around next year.”

Carlson followed the low-key reveal up with a more public pronouncement on Twitter using the same clip of a Leonardo Dicaprio speech from “Wolf of Wall Street” that Carl Lawson used a year ago.

The fourth-year junior has already rewritten most of Auburn’s kicking records, owning 12 kick or scoring records going into the Sugar Bowl. He went 26 of 30 this season while extending his streak of extra-point attempts without a miss to 140 and maintaining one of the best touchback percentages (71 percent) in the country.

Carlson is a two-time finalist for the Lou Groza Award given to the nation’s top kicker.

“Third time is the charm, hopefully,” Carlson said with a smile.

Returning to Auburn next year will also give Carlson a chance to mentor his younger brother Anders Carlson. The younger Carlson verbally committed to Auburn in June.

“That’s important to me and that’s real special to me,” Carlson said. “Not a lot of people get to do that, so it’ll be fun to kind of coach him up a little and see how he does after I leave.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra