AUBURN, Ala. (WIAT) — If you ask Daniel Carlson how he didn’t end up playing at Alabama, he shrugs and says, it wasn’t meant to be.
Carlson grew up in Colorado, but on Saturdays, his whole family gathered around the TV to watch SEC football–specifically Alabama. Like so many in this state, the Carlson family is divided. On one side, it’s Daniel and his brother Anders. The Alabama side is pretty much everyone else.
With a leg that boasts a range borderline ridiculous and a demeanor that shrugs off intense pressure, the Auburn kicker has transformed from a specialist into an offensive weapon.
“I think he’s the best kicker in college football, and each week he answers the bell,” Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn said.
That’s pretty remarkable for a soccer player who didn’t consider football as a future, until his junior year of high school.
“Thought I would be finishing up a college soccer career by now, and my dream was always to play pro soccer or something–but this is a whole lot better,” Carlson said.
Auburn was the first school interested in Carlson. Daniel immediately felt at home on the Plains, which was met with chagrin from his family, full of Alabama alumni.
“It definitely took them a while to get on board because they were still Alabama fans at heart,” Carlson reflected.
Even Daniel grew up a fan of the Crimson Tide: his father Hanz played tennis at Alabama; his mom was a football recruiter for Bear Bryant.
“I remember being up in the coaches’ hallway and my mom’s cellphone went off and it was the Alabama fight song. It was going off in her purse and of course she couldn’t find it, and people started poking their heads out and going, ‘what is going on?'” Carlson remembered.
Carlson decided to forge his own path, and as the kicks went through the uprights one by one, the family that bled crimson and white slowly turned to orange and blue.
“I won’t speak for them but I definitely think they’re on the Auburn side now,” Carlson said.
I asked Daniel what color his family would be wearing in the stands today. He said they’ll all be in orange and blue–except for his grandma and grandpa. They’ll be rooting for him, but not for his team.