Auburn TE Philip Lutzenkirchen catches on
Philip Lutzenkirchen has claimed his spot as one of Auburn’s fan
He has 27,000-plus Twitter followers and, now that quarterback
Cam Newton has moved on to the NFL, the tight end draws the biggest
cheers whenever the Tigers’ starting lineup is announced at
It’s an unusual role for a player who until this year hasn’t
been in an offense that featured his position.
”I’ve never heard a tight end get the biggest cheer in the
stadium until last year,” said Jay Boulware, Auburn’s tight ends
and special teams coach. ”It was Lutz, every time. I was teasing
him in the meeting about that (Friday). I said, `You guys should
hear when they announce the starting lineup and they say Lutz’s
name. It is the biggest cheer on our football team, by far.’
”It used to be the quarterback. When Cam was here, obviously it
was Cam. It just struck me as odd one day when all of a sudden it
became Lutz. He’s pretty popular.”
Like many things in this state, you can trace that popularity at
least partly to the Iron Bowl.
Lutzenkirchen’s 7-yard touchdown catch early in the
fourth-quarter completed the scoring in a 28-27 victory over
Alabama two years ago and kept the Tigers on track for the national
title. It might have been overshadowed by the Newton-led comeback
at the time, but Auburn fans didn’t forget.
His awkward but enthusiastic celebratory dance was fairly
”He made one of the biggest plays in Alabama history. I’m
talking about Alabama and Auburn history. Actually it is Alabama
history, too,” Boulware said. ”When he caught that touchdown pass
against Alabama and did that little touchdown dance, the Lutzie as
they called it. I think that pretty much won him over with the
His popularity also might stem from Lutzenkirchen being
personable and articulate. He has interned the past two summers
with a group called Youth for Christ. He visited with high school
kids around the area, along with defensive end Nosa Eguae this
summer and quarterback Barrett Trotter last year.
”There’s not many tight ends on the same platform that I
have,” he said. ”That goes back to catching touchdowns and just
the way I was raised, being well-spoken and trying to do the right
thing all the time. I think people appreciate that, especially when
you hear about all these college athletes getting in trouble all
the time and not doing the right thing. It definitely goes back to
how I was raised and my family. I think it’s refreshing for people
to see athletes have success, but at the same time represent
themselves and their university in the right way.”
Fullback/tight end Blake Burgess sums up his teammate’s
popularity on two fronts.
”He is Mr. Touchdown,” Burgess said. ”He’s a great person all
around. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever been around. If
anybody should have 27,000 Twitter followers, it should be
Lutzenkirchen also scored the game-winning touchdown against
South Carolina last season and the go-ahead fourth-quarter score to
help beat the Gamecocks two years ago.
He led the Tigers with seven touchdown catches last season – on
24 receptions – and already owns the school’s career mark for a
tight end with 14. Then he was a favored red zone target for
offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, sneaking out of the backfield
after a day of mostly blocking.
Now, Malzahn’s successor, Scot Loeffler, has brought a pro-style
passing game after tight end Evan Rodriguez was his leading
receiver at Temple last season.
”He can be a wideout, he can be a tight end, he can come out of
the backfield,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. ”You can move him
around in multiple ways. He’s the same old Philip. He’s just an
incredibly gifted pass receiver in open space. He knows that our
No. 1 challenge with him right now is to make sure he can be a
physical perimeter blocker meaning in a three-point stance from the
tight end position, and that’s going to be required.
”He’s done it some in the past, but more of that’s being
required now. We know he can catch the ball. He’s got to continue
to improve in all phases, but he’s certainly a key guy in our
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