MITCHELL, S.D. – It’s been a good seven-year stretch for the Dakota Wesleyan University football program when it comes to punters.
Nick Tolsma came to DWU in 2006 and was the team’s punter from 2006-2008 and again in 2010. He earned All-American honors in 2008 before being sidelined with an injury before the 2009 season even began.
Enter Derek Carlson. As a true freshman, Carlson, a Sioux Falls, S.D. native, took over punting duties and finished second in the Great Plains Athletic Conference in yards per punt and set the school record for longest punt. Tolsma took over punting duties again in 2010, but Carlson still got his chances, and he reclaimed the role of the Tigers’ main punter as a junior and senior.
Now, four years after Tolsma earned his All-American honor, Carlson has earned that same honor. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound senior was named an AFCA NAIA All-American, it was announced Wednesday morning by the NAIA. Carlson is the Tigers’ third All-American in as many seasons and fourth since Tolsma earned the honor in 2008.
Carlson is one of six GPAC football players to earn All-American honors from the AFCA. 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 were also honored.
This season, Carlson punted the ball 56 times for 2,302 yards and averaged 41.1 yards per punt. He led the GPAC and finished sixth in the NAIA in yards per punt. He had seven touchbacks and 12 punts inside the 20-yard line. He also had a long punt of 75 yards.
Carlson earned All-GPAC honors for the third and fourth times in his career as a senior. He was named to the second team special teams as a punter and earned honorable mention accolades as a tight end. He earned All-GPAC First Team Special Teams honors as a junior and second team accolades as a freshman in 2009. He also earned GPAC Special Teams Player-of-the-Week honors as a freshman in was named the offensive player-of-the-week as a senior this season after catching four touchdown passes against Dordt College.
In four seasons with Dakota Wesleyan, Carlson punted 159 times for 2,302 yards. He averaged 40.5 yards per punt and set the school record for longest punt at 80 yards as a freshman in 2009. He also caught 39 passes for 639 yards and nine touchdowns. As a senior in 2012, Carlson caught 23 passes for 519 yards and nine touchdowns.