Carlson, a 2011 NAIA/AFCA All-American and 2012 BSN preseason All-American, led the Red Raider defense with 59.5 tackles, including 38 solo stops and 18 for a loss of 73 yards. A repeat first-team all-GPAC selection, Carlson led the GPAC with nine sacks, ranking eighth in the NAIA, and forced five fumbles to go with 14 quarterback hurries. Carlson is the first Northwestern player to earn the top defensive honor since Nathan Jansen in 2008.
A total of seven Northwestern players earned first team accolades, four on offense and three on the defensive side. Both running backs, Brandon Smith and Theo Bartman, Brandonearned first team honors, as did two members of the offensive line, Nathan Nieuwendorp and Wil Van't Hof. Carlson, along with fellow defensive lineman Ethan Lensch, and linebacker Aaron Jansen earned first team honors on defense.