Spring Football Preview: Tight Ends

A look at the tight end position is featured as Auburn prepares for spring football drills.

Auburn, Ala.--Last season as offensive coordinator at Temple, Scot Loeffler featured the tight ends in the Owls' offense.

If he wants to do that this fall at Auburn the new member of AU's offensive coaching staff has good talent to work with at the position led by senior Philip Lutzenkirchen, who could be the SEC's top tight end in 2012.

However, for spring training the Tigers will be short of bodies to work with because Lutzenkirchen is still rehabbing from shoulder surgery. That process is going well, but the returning starter is not expected to put his pads on for contact until August.

Brandon Fulse is shown in practice during his freshman season.

That should mean plenty of attention for 6-4, 238 Brandon Fulse, who played in all 13 games as a true freshman last season with two starts. If the tight ends become a bigger part of the passing game this season, Fulse should improve his receiving statistics after catching just two balls for 12 yards in 2011.

Lutzenkirchen, a 6-5, 258-pounder from Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga., finished third on the team in receptions with 24 and receiving yards with 238. His seven touchdown catches led the Tigers and helped him earn second team All-SEC honors from the league's coaches and AP.

Heading into his final college season, Lutzenkirchen has 44 receptions for 489 yards and 14 touchdowns, the most receiving TDs ever for an Auburn tight end.

Philip Lutzenkirchen hangs out with a patient at Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta as part of Auburn's bowl activities in December.

With a new coordinator running the show there is certainly the possibility of position moves. C.J. Uzomah, a large wide receiver, could get a look at tight end.

Last year, with Gus Malzahn calling the shots on offense, center/guard Blake Burgess lined up at tight end at times to take advantage of his blocking ability.

The Tigers signed two tight ends in February and either one could break into the playing rotation for 2012. Ricky Parks from Callaway High in Hogansville, Ga., is ranked as the number five tight prospect in the country even though the 6-4, 231-pounder spent much of his time in high school playing quarterback.

Darrion Hutcherson from Dadeville High is one of the larger tight ends the Tigers have ever signed at six-foot-seven, 245 pounds. He is ranked as the nation's No. 14 tight end prospect by Scout.com.

The Tigers will hit the practice field for the first of 15 spring practice dates on Friday, March 23rd. The annual A-Day spring game is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 14th at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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