DWU's Carlson earns All-American honorsWhen Derek Carlson looked at his phone Tuesday morning, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
When Derek Carlson looked at his phone Tuesday morning, he couldn’t believe his eyes.
The Dakota Wesleyan University punter received a text message with the word “Congratulations.”
Carlson, a senior, was named a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics All-American, which was announced Wednesday morning by the NAIA.
“It’s an incredible honor,” he said. “I still can’t believe I got it.”
Carlson has started as DWU’s punter for his junior and senior seasons. This season, he punted the ball 56 times for 2,302 yards and averaged 41.1 yards per punt. He finished sixth in the NAIA in yards per punt, but led the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Carlson, who had a long punt of 75 yards. “I play for my team and don’t really care about the individual awards, but I’m honored.”
Tiger head coach Ross Cimpl said awards like this lead DWU’s program in the right direction.
“For Derek and us to get this recognition is good for our program and it keeps DWU in a positive light,” he said. “I’m very happy about having someone from our team earn this honor.”
The last DWU punter to receive All-American honors was Nick Tolsma, who preceded Carlson at the special teams position. Tolsma earned the honors in 2008, which was when Carlson was a freshman.
“He taught me so much when we were on the team together,” Carlson said. “I’ve looked up to him and would really like to thank him in person.”
Carlson has earned all-GPAC honors four times in his career.
Cimpl said Carlson is a very coachable athlete and played an important role on the team.
“Derek has always been on the verge as a big-time impact player,” Cimpl said. “He’s always been that way as far as punting goes, but he exceeded our expectations as an offensive player.”
As an offensive player, Carlson totaled 519 yards and nine touchdowns on 23 receptions in his senior season. He also participated in the National Bowl, which took place Saturday in Allentown, Penn.
The punter is one of six GPAC football players to earn All-American honors from the American Football Coaches Association.
Other conference players to earn All-American honors were Doane College offensive lineman Dillon Carmichael, Northwestern College defensive lineman Jordan Carlson, Nebraska Wesleyan linebacker Brett Kaczor, Morningside College defensive back Jared Goforth and Concordia University place kicker Kenny Zoeller.