A two-way player at Auburn?
A redshirt freshman from Colorado Springs has a chance to be a two-way player for Auburn.
Daniel Carlson won’t be making an interception as a defensive back and then getting back out there lining up as a wide receiver. It won’t be that glamorous. Regardless, Carlson could be counted on heavily in 2014 because of his ability to do two things: punting and kicking.
“There are kickers at other schools that have done it successfully,” Carlson told the Montgomery Advertiser on Tuesday. “Of course it’s a little more rare, I guess, but I’m happy to take on the challenge. I’m excited about it. We’ll see. I think I could be a really good punter if I continue to work on it.”
Carlson is battling Jimmy Hutchinson, Tyler Stovall and Matt Shiel for the punting duties. Tuesday’s practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium included a 50-play scrimmage that emphasized special teams. All four punting candidates got live work.
“It is always different when you got live bodies coming at you,” said Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. “Some react in a good way, some react in a not so good way. Just feeling that pressure to have people around, is it close to being blocked and everything that comes with it.”
Conclusions draw about Auburn’s kicking game after spring practice from special teams coach Scott Fountain was that Carlson had solidified himself to handle field goals and kickoff duties. He was named the special teams MVP of the A-Day game connecting on a 50-yard field, a 27-yard field while hitting 5-of-6 extra point attempts.
The presumption was Jimmy Hutchinson had walked away with the punting job but he wasn’t consistent enough in the eyes of Fountain.
“We want a consistent punter and in our style of offense we move the ball pretty consistent,” said Fountain. “We are looking for someone that can sky kick. We need to find a guy that can sky kick and pin (the opponent) within the 20.”
Steven Clark, a Ray Guy Award semifinalist, is the man Carlson and the other three candidates are trying to replace. A free agent signee cut by the Denver Broncos this summer, Clark has been at Auburn mentoring the team’s kickers and punters while getting some training in. Clark averaged 42.8 yards a punt last year and was very effective at executing the sky kick.
Carlson, like Clark, is very tall. He stands 6-foot-4. Hutchinson is 6-foot-2, Stovall is 6-foot-1 and Shiel is 5-foot-11.
“I’m kind of taller, built like a punter,” said Carlson. “If I can connect well, I can drop some bombs.”
Double-dipping could wear out Carlson’s leg but Auburn’s got an eye on it.
“You worry about a young guy, especially with their leg,” said Malzahn. “Cody Parkey, when he was a freshman, pulled something. (Carlson) has been kicking a lot because he is trying to win jobs but the coaching staff is managing it.”