Former Tiger Dies In Auto Accident

Philip Lutzenkirchen, a respected member of the 2009-2012 Auburn football teams, has died in a traffic accident.

Auburn, Ala.--Philip Lutzenkirchen, who played tight end for the 2010 Auburn football national championship team, was killed in a traffic accident in Troup County, Ga., on Sunday morning when a vehicle in which was a passenger crashed.

Living and working in Montgomery, where he also served as a volunteer football coach at St. James School, Lutzenkirchen holds the Auburn record for most touchdown catches by a tight end in a season with seven and a career with 14.

Georgia State Troopers said the accident occurred at approximately 3 a.m. EDT at the intersection of Big Springs Road and Lower Springs Road.

"I'm deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Philip Lutzenkirchen," Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn said. "He was a great young man who touched the lives of everyone he knew in a positive way. On the field Philip was a great player and competitor, but more importantly he was a great teammate and friend off the field. My thoughts and prayers are with Philip's parents, Mike and Mary, and all of his family and friends who are grieving his passing.

"This is a sad day for the entire Auburn family," Malzahn added. "I find peace knowing that even though Philip was taken from us too soon, that he lived his life to the fullest, leaving a lifetime of great memories for his family and friends to cherish forever."

Auburn's offensive coordinator, Rhett Lashlee, noted the news was tough to handle. "The Auburn Family is broken today with the loss of a great Auburn man and friend Phillip Lutzenkirchen," Rhett Lashlee said. "Crushed and without words."

Lutzenkirchen's 59 career catches are the second most for an Auburn tight end, four off the record set by Cooper Wallace from 2002-2005. Lutzenkirchen's 628 receiving yards are the third most for an AU tight end.

Off the field he was heavily involved in service projects while at Auburn and he also was named to the Academic All-SEC Team.

In 2012 he played in just six games before being sidelined for the rest of the season with a hip injury. He caught 15 passes for 139 yards as a senior. He was selected to the SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team last summer.

In 2011 he played in 12 of the Tigers' 13 games with 11 starts as a junior. A second team All-SEC selection, he caught 24 passes for 238 yards and seven touchdowns.

In 2010 he started five games during Auburn's unbeaten, national championship season and contributed with five touchdown receptions. He caught 15 passes for 185 yards as a sophomore.

Philip Lutzenkirchen

Lutzenkirchen played in 13 games as a true freshman with one start in 2009. He caught five passes for 66 yards and scored two touchdowns.

"Philip's death is a devastating tragedy for his family, the Auburn family and his countless friends," Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs said. "Today is also a profoundly sad day for the Auburn Athletics family, who loved and respected Philip not only as a great player but more importantly as a friend and the epitome of an Auburn man.

"I came to know Philip well and I admired everything about who he was and the way he lived his life. He had a strong faith, a big heart and a burning desire to help others. Philip was a bright light this world desperately needed, and his death leaves a void that can't possibly be filled. My prayers, my thoughts and my heart go out to his wonderful parents, Mike and Mary, their entire family and his many grieving friends."

Popular with Auburn fans, Lutzenkirchen is showing signing an autography at Fan Day prior to his senior season.

A highly regarded prospect Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga., he committed to Coach Tommy Tuberville's Auburn coaching staff in May 2008, picking the Tigers over Clemson,, Stanford, Florida State, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and others. He considered other colleges after Gene Chizik took over as head coach, but decided to stay with his commitment to Auburn.

"Philip Lutzenkirchen was what every parent aspires their son to be," Chizik said. "He was compassionate, determined, honorable and full of love, integrity and respect.

"In 27 years of coaching, I have come across what I would consider to be a few ‘rare' young men. Phillip was certainly one of those ‘rare' ones. He truly lived his life for other people and always found time to give to others. His family values taught him to be a great friend and teammate of everyone he came in contact with.

"My deepest sympathy is extended to his parents Mike and Mary, his sisters, and all of his extended family," Chizik added. "We should all begin by honoring his life because he lived a life worthy of that. In his 23 short years, he has certainly left an impactful legacy to everyone he touched. I will miss him deeply."

One of the players Lutzenkirchen coached at St. James, tight end Jalen Harris, is Auburn's most recent verbal commitment for the 2015 signee class.

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