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History In Range for Daniel Carlson

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Daniel Carlson is college football's best kicker and will likely soon be lining up for a chance at a distinction even more revered.

As Daniel Carlson prepares to enter his fourth season as Auburn's starting placekicker, he does so with history well-within range. The two-time Lou Groza Award finalist has a resume that already compares favorably to many of the legendary greats at his position, all with one more year remaining. Carlson is college football's best and will likely soon be lining up for a chance at a distinction even more revered.

Now just a point outside the top ten, Carlson will almost certainly finish his career as the SEC's all-time leading scorer. He has averaged 118 points per season to date and is merely 59 points out of sole possession of first place, currently belonging to Georgia's Blair Walsh. With 19 more field goals, Carlson would top the league record of 87 makes held UGA's Billy Bennett; Carlson drilled 28 field goals a year ago. Among qualified participants, he currently ranks fourth in league history with a conversion percentage of 83.13, less than one full point out of the lead.   

Carlson isn't just closing in on conference marks. He is 141 points away from potentially passing Arizona State's Zane Gonzalez for the most points scored by a kicker in major college football history, a total he very nearly reached this past season. Carlson is 27 field goals away from tying Gonzalez for the most made kicks, a total he did pass last fall. For point of reference, Carlson has tied Florida State's Roberto Aguayo's three-year field goal total and could pass the likes of Memphis' Stephen Gostkowski and Colorado's Mason Crosby as soon as his next game.    

During Carlson's freshman season, he made 5-of-5 field goals in his Iron Bowl debut. Carlson was unanimous all-conference as a sophomore, setting a new school mark for most consecutive field goal conversions and long-range success; he was one of just four FBS kickers with four makes of over 51 yards, including a 56-yarder in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. The SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2016, Carlson had one of the league's most-prolific years ever, a record-setting run which featured a 6-for-6 effort in an 18-13 win over LSU. 

In addition to the aforementioned, Carlson ranked fifth in the country in touchback percentage in 2015, second in 2016 and scored on a 20-yard fake field goal run against Arkansas State. He has never missed an extra point. A two-time All-American, Carlson has also been recognized nationally for his academic and civic work. Last season, he was Auburn's Male Athlete of the Year.

There will be plenty of big game showcases for Carlson this fall, including a road game at defending national champion Clemson, LSU in Baton Rouge, Georgia and Alabama on Senior Day in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Good news for head coach Gus Malzahn, the Tigers have signed Daniel's younger brother Anders, the country's top prep kicker. 

Already, Daniel Carlson has had a remarkable, storied career. With the momentum of two years for the history books, he is on the verge of even more.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports