When Gus Malzahn chose three players to accompany him to Hoover, Carlson was on his list, along with defensive back Tray Matthews and offensive lineman Braden Smith.
“There have been a lot of great kickers at Auburn,” Carlson said. “It’s a great feeling to carry that on and break some records while I’m here.”
Carlson is a two-time All-American and 2016 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year.
Malzahn pointed out that Carlson’s parents and grandparents graduated from Alabama.
“And then,” Malzahn continued, “he got engaged this past week. So there are a lot of things going on in his life, but he is a true weapon for us.”
Carlson gave Katherine Baker a ring, they prayed together and now are planning a wedding.
Carlson is a slender 6-foot-4 athlete who doesn’t look like he weighs 223 pounds, but he does.
“Luckily, I’m a little taller so I’m not the smallest guy here,” he said. “It’s a big honor for me to be here and represent Auburn.”
Carlson honed his kicking skills while playing soccer as a youngster.
“A family friend asked me in church one day if I could kick a football,” Carlson said. “Over the years I got pretty good at it.”
He was a Lou Groza Award finalist as a sophomore and junior, and SEC Special Teams Player of the Year last season when he averaged scoring 10.3 points per game.
He has made 141 straight PATs.
Smith, a 6-foot-6, 303 pound senior from Olathe, Kansas, anchors the Auburn offensive line. He cleared the way for Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson last year as the Tigers led the SEC in rushing.
“It makes us comfortable knowing we have depth,” he said. “We can plug in any player at any position and we have multiple options.”
Smith sounded hungry when he talked about going to a cookout at Malzahn’s house.
“Coach will sometimes host the team meal and usually those times we go out to his house. One time we had some sausage, brisket and a lot of other stuff that I don’t even know what it’s called, but it tastes good.”
Matthews is entering his third season as a starter at safety, where he led the team in tackles last season with 76.
He is a transfer from Georgia and a little emotional about it.
“The last couple of years have been the most amazing years of my life,” he said. “I’ve met great friends … so many great people at Auburn. The teachers and custodians are even nice.”
Matthews has graduated and is working on a master’s degree.
Being a Georgian, he was asked about the South’s Oldest Rivalry, Auburn vs. Georgia.
“It’s very important to me,” he said. “Winning that game would be a great way to go out and finish things at Auburn.”