Daniel Carlson has returned for his senior season, which is outstanding news for the Tigers offense Carlson is a top candidate for the Lou Groza Award in 2017 as the nation’s best kicker, he was a finalist for in each of the last two seasons. His presence will be monumental in both field goal opportunities and kickoffs, as he was a touchback machine in 2016.
Carlson will also get the chance to mentor his younger brother, Anders, who arrive on the Plains this offseason. Expect to see Carlson get one more big year as one of Auburn’s best specialists of all-time before handing the reins to his brother.
Right now, Ian Shannon is in line to replace Kevin Phillips as the punter. Phillips came on strong at the end of the season and booted a number of un-returnable punts. Shannon needs to work on his consistency, but his leg could a weapon there for the future. Anders Carlson can also punt, so he might be used as a crisis option there as a scholarship player.
No, overlook the fact the Tigers is set to return the rest of its field goal team in 2017, too. Tyler Stovall and Ike Powell play key roles in Carlson’s success, and that reserve will go a long way.
The team opened up the return man contest in the spring to see who fit this position, but here’s the best guess at how it could shake out. Kerryon Johnson should be a starter at kick returner. With Rudy Ford and now Stanton Truitt out of the picture, look for Kam Martina speedster on special teams in 2017. Martin repped as a second-team return man in Sugar Bowl practices and has the skills to be dangerous there.
At punt returner, Stephen Roberts brings the most experience, but Scott Fountain will most likely see a number of players challenge him there. For now, Roberts is returning starter there, with Jason Smith providing an extra push in that battle for the starting spot.
With Carlson returning along with a number of key specialists returning the Tigers should have othe best special teams in the (Southeastern Conference) as the 2017 campaign kicks-off in early September.