HOOVER, Ala. — One of the players at Southeastern Conference media days Thursday was not like the others.
Auburn’s Daniel Carlson was the only kicker of the 42 players appearing at this year's four-day event. Also, he got engaged just a week before his arrival.
“I knew for a year I was going to marry her,” he said Thursday, the final session of media days at the Wynfrey Hotel in this Birmingham suburb. “She said, ‘Yes.’ Otherwise, I’d probably have some tough questions.”
Carlson’s right foot was responsible for all 18 points for Auburn in its 18-13 win over LSU in September. He booted six field goals on six attempts to tie the conference and school records for field goals in a game and send LSU coach Les Miles packing.
LSU fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron less than 24 hours after Carlson’s final kick, a 29-yarder, flew through the uprights with less than 3 minutes left.
No need to remind Carlson of the ultimate result of his career-high night. He got a coach canned — sort of.
“It’s a tough business,” the senior said. “Nobody’s happy with losing. Coach Miles is a great coach. He recruited me out of high school. It’s unfortunate to see him go. That’s just how competitive the SEC is these days.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn selected Carlson as one of his three player representatives here for good reason. He has made more field goals than any other player in Auburn history (69), has converted eight 50-plus-yard kicks on 12 attempts and has the fourth-best field-goal percentage in the league (83.1). He has made all 141 of his extra points, too.
A highlight among all of those boots is that LSU game, of course. He made three 29-yard field goals, one from 51, another from 31 and a 37-yarder that gave Auburn the lead with 12:36 left.
“That was a special one, just because, one, I was on the field a lot. That’s always fun,” he said with a smile. “Just how the game ended up being the field goals being the deciding factor. Very special to me, special to the team. It was a turning point for us and a big game. It’s fun being able to do my role. It wasn’t anything amazing that I did. I’m expected to go out there and make those field goals.”
One miss could have been devastating.
LSU drove inside the 20-yard line in the final seconds, down by five. The Tigers were denied in a wild ending in which quarterback Danny Etling completed a pass for what was first ruled a game-winning touchdown.
But a review found the game clock expired before Etling took the snap. Jordan-Hare Stadium roared its approval, and Carlson and Co. celebrated wildly.
Auburn won a game without scoring a touchdown for the first time in nearly 10 years. Auburn didn’t need to get into the end zone; it had Carlson, a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder poised for another All-America season and that wedding of his.
He proposed to former Auburn student and longtime girlfriend Katherine Barker in a surprising way. The two were set for dinner with his grandparents in the Birmingham area. He lined a walkway with rose petals and candles, leading to a porch where he dropped to one knee.
“More nervous,” he said, “than kicking a field goal.”
Watch list updates
LSU cornerback Kevin Toliver, edge rusher Arden Key and center Will Clapp landed on more preseason watch lists Thursday.
Toliver and Key were on the Nagurski Trophy watch list. That award goes to the nation's best defensive player. Clapp was on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s best interior lineman.
Key and Toliver were named to the Bednarik Award watch list earlier this week; that goes to the nation's top defensive player. Key was also named to the Maxwell Award list (top player). Clapp, ahead of his first season playing center, was named to the watch list for the Rimington (top center).
The next Mike the Tiger will enjoy nearly $1 million worth of renovations to the habitat on …
More to come
The predicted order of finish and the preseason All-SEC teams are scheduled to be announced Friday morning.
In 25 years of voting, media members have correctly picked the SEC champion just six times, including in 2007, when LSU won the league.
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