NEW ORLEANS — With a casual remark and an tweet of Leonardo DiCaprio’s “I’m not leaving speech” from The Wolf of Wall Street, Daniel Carlson confirmed what he had been hinting at since the Iron Bowl.
The two-time Lou Groza Award finalist will be returning for his senior season as Auburn’s kicker.
“That’s something I’ve been talking about with coaches right now. It was more just checking my options and stuff,” Carlson said after Auburn’s second Sugar Bowl practice Thursday at Tulane University. “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 ranked again as one of the nation’s best kickers as a junior this season, making 26 of 30 field goals (two of the misses were blocked) and all 43 of his point after attempts while ranking second nationally with a 79.4 touchback percentage.
The Colorado Springs, Colo., native was projected to go as high as the second or third round if he entered the 2017 NFL Draft, according to ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
But Carlson never seemed too intent on testing the waters. He said he was “leaning toward staying” after kicking four field goals in the Tigers’ Nov. 26 Iron Bowl loss to Alabama, and tweeted “3rd time is the charm?” after falling short of winning the Lou Groza Award for a second straight year.
The fact that his younger brother Anders is committed to join Auburn as a three-star kicker in the Class of 2017 also played into his decision.
“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.”
Now Carlson just hopes the third time really is the charm with the Lou Groza Award.