AUBURN, Ala. — When Daniel Carlson rewrote the kicking portions of the record books for Auburn football and the SEC, he broke some marks that had stood for decades.
Now, as he heads to the NFL, Carlson wouldn’t mind seeing those records fall in the span of the next four years. After all, he’s already used to seeing his younger brother, Anders, pass him.
“He broke all of my high school records, so I’m cheering that he’ll break all of my college ones, too,” Daniel Carlson said last month in Atlanta. “I’ll always be his biggest fan. I’m really excited to see what he’s going to be able to do.”
After four years that ended with him becoming the most successful kicker in Auburn and conference history, Carlson has passed his responsibilities as the Tigers’ top specialist to his younger brother in 2018.
Like Daniel, Anders redshirted in his first year at Auburn. And like Daniel, Anders got to learn from an elite kicker while spending time as a member of an SEC West-winning squad.
“I feel like I was coaching him a lot, probably a lot harder than some of the other coaches were,” Carlson said. “But I just want to see him do well. It’s been fun to be able to push him, and he’s been able to push me. I’m trying to just teach him a couple of things and show him a couple of things that he can see me do during the warm-up of a game that he can take going into next year and the years to come.”
So can the younger Carlson replicate the older one’s excellent success rate on longer field goals and drill booming kickoffs for touchbacks? Daniel says Anders definitely has the power to do it.
“He’s got a huge leg,” Carlson said. “I think that’s what really people are going to be able to see. It’s hard to remember when I was redshirting, but I think he’s right there or even better than I was at that age. He’s just got a very smooth swing and a big leg.”
That’s high praise, considering Carlson hit 50-plus-yarders and averaged 42 yards per punt as a redshirt freshman in 2014. Anders hit a 51-yard field goal at their shared alma mater of the Classical Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
From a physical standpoint, Anders passes the eye test of his older brother.
“He’s got all the potential in the world,” Carlson said. “I’ve been trying to look back and think of how I was kicking at that age and when I just came in and compare it. It’s hard to say, but I think he’s definitely right up there, maybe even better.”
But Daniel knows that kicking, especially in the high-stakes SEC, has just as much to do with mental strength as physical strength.
And until Anders gets an opportunity to try a clutch kick in a rivalry game, it’s hard to say what he’ll be as a complete product.
“I think he’s got all the tools he needs to be successful,” Carlson said. “At the end of the day, the other 50 percent of that is the mental side. How are you going to be able to handle the pressure of the big moments? That’s what you won’t know until you get there.”
Daniel says Anders will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders, especially now that he’ll have the last name of the best kicker in school history on his jersey. Auburn fans will see that and expect a similar amount of excellence.
And while he has to clean up some of his technique and get used to dealing with that spotlight, Daniel thinks his younger brother can live up to the challenges in 2018 and beyond.
“I’m excited to watch him succeed,” Carlson said. “He’s a great kicker. He’s probably going to have a lot of pressure riding on him. … I think he’ll do a great job. He’s a great competitor and a hard worker. I think he’ll be very successful.”