After missing spring practice due to shoulder surgery, Philip Lutzenkirchen is expected to be fully healed in time to face Clemson on Sept. 1 and that is good news for new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler.
After catching 24 passes for 238 yards and seven touchdowns last year, Lutzenkirchen is expected to get the ball more this season in Loeffler's system. The former Temple coordinator runs an offense that has tight ends getting the ball more frequently than they did under Auburn's previous offense. With Lutzenkirchen's size, hands, experience with a history of making clutch plays, he will likely be a prime target.
"I'm very excited," Lutzenkirchen said as he prepares for his final season of college football. "He (Loeffler) came in and from the get-go said that he is going to make an effort to get me the ball as much as he can. Any player, receiver or skill position wants to hear that. Last year his tight end at Temple led the team in receptions. He's definitely made a point to tell me that I'm going to get the ball and that's exciting."
Brandon Fulse is shown at practice for last year's Chick-fil-A Bowl.
With Lutzenkirchen recovering from surgery in the spring, sophomores Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah had a chance to show the coaching staff what they could do as they got the bulk of the reps in the 15 practices.
Fulse did not get many balls thrown his way last year, gaining 12 yards on two catches. A classic-sized tight end standing at 6-4, 250 pounds, he should get the ball more this season, but is still expected to help the team more with his blocking abilities.
Uzomah played quarterback and wide receiver in high school and is still making the transition to tight end after playing wide receiver as a freshman in 2011. Not catching a pass in his first season, he did throw three passes, completing one for a four-yard touchdown and also adding an interception.
C.J. Uzomah lined up as a wideout in 2011.
"When it comes down to it, I want them to have the same success in their career as I've had so far," Lutzenkirchen said of the other tight ends. "With the new offense there are going to be multiple tight ends playing and have the opportunity to make plays so any time they come to me and ask for help for anything I'll sit down with them and try to mentor them. I know in a year I'll be gone and they'll be the ones playing tight end for Auburn University. I want them to succeed just as I've done so far."
Parks, a four-star prospect, brings a lot of athleticism to the Tigers' offense. Although he spent most of his time at quarterback the past two seasons, he has the skills to make a quick adjustment to tight end and has won praise from his new teammates on how he has worked out this summer in Auburn.
The 6-7, 245 Hutcherson would add even more height to the position, but at the moment he's still waiting to be cleared academically by the NCAA. A two-way standout in high school, he was ranked as the No. 14 tight end nationally by Scout.com.
It will be a surprise if Coach Jay Boulware's tight ends corps isn't a bigger part of the passing game than it was last year. They will continue to play a key role in the running game whether they are lined up like H-backs or in the more traditional tight end role at the line of scrimmage.
"I think we have a really close group of tight ends and Jay Prosch is also in there as a fullback with us," Lutzekirchen noted. "We keep it pretty loose and we goof around a lot, but I think they kind of respect me and respect what I've done here and look up to me and take my advice, which is nice."