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Philip Lutzenkirchen's infuence lives on


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This is a really long article so I took only so much. Most of what I took details Chip's relationship with Philip and there is a piece on Jalen Harris playing in honor of Philip in the article too. I really suggest that you guys go look at the whole article.  http://www.al.com/auburnfootball/index.ssf/2017/06/three_years_after_his_death_ph.html#incart_river_index


Three years after his death, Philip Lutzenkirchen's influence lives on at Auburn

The sun began to sink behind the scoreboard at Lassiter's Frank Fillmann Stadium as Chip Lindsey finished addressing the thousands who gathered to remember Philip Lutzenkirchen and celebrate his life.

Just days after the former Auburn tight end tragically passed away in a late-night, single-vehicle accident outside of LaGrange, Ga., Lindsey, Lutzenkirchen's high school coach, fondly remembered the remarkable player and person he came to know over the previous six years. Lindsey choked up as he wrapped up his remarks, fighting back the emotions of losing not just a former player, but someone he considered a close friend.

"His legacy will never be forgotten," Lindsey said that evening, "and I look forward to the day we meet again."

Three years after Lutzenkirchen's death, his spirit lives on -- both through the non-profit organization his family runs, the Lutzie 43 Foundation, and Auburn's 2017 football team. As the family's foundation continues to grow, Lutzenkirchen's memory is carried on at Auburn through a select few who shared a special bond with one of the most beloved players in program history. Chief among those are Lindsey, who was hired as Auburn's offensive coordinator in January, and tight end Jalen Harris, who was coached by Lutzenkirchen at Montgomery's St. James in the months leading up to his death in 2014.

In Lindsey's office on the top floor of Auburn's athletics complex is a framed photo of Lutzenkirchen from one of the tight end's 14 touchdown catches at Auburn.

Lutzenkirchen autographed the photo with a personal inscription, thanking Lindsey for the impact he had on his career from their one season together at Lassiter in 2008.

"It's hard still to talk about him," Lindsey said. "We were very close. ... Obviously, he means a lot to our family for sure. Just a great kid, a great representation of Auburn and a guy that I think was on earth for a reason and a purpose."

Lindsey first met Lutzenkirchen when he accepted the head coaching job at Lassiter in January 2008. Shortly after taking over the program, which won just six games total the previous two years, Lindsey sat in his new office when Lutzenkirchen popped his head in the door and ingratiated himself with an optimistic turn of phrase: "Hey, big guy, ready to win some games?"

He was one of the first players Lindsey met at Lassiter, and that moment signaled the beginning of a relationship that Lutzenkirchen's father, Mike Lutzenkirchen, described as "a unique and special bond."

"Chip and Philip hit it off extremely early on," Mike Lutzenkirchen said. "I think it was an automatic connection that was developed, and it was an easy one because both of their personalities are very similar. I think their beliefs are very similar."

The two grew close, with Lutzenkirchen the senior leader on Lindsey's first Lassiter team in 2008. The Trojans had an impressive turnaround and finished the year 9-3, including the first playoff win in school history. Lutzenkirchen, already committed to Auburn, was the star of the team and hauled in 72 catches for 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns.

"Their personalities matched; they didn't take things too seriously," said Brian Penter, Lutzenkirchen's best friend and schoolmate at Lassiter. "I know Chip and Philip are both that way, but then when it was time to go to work, they were prepared and the best at it. I think with Chip coming to Lassiter, a whole new city, moved his family and didn't know anyone, I think coming in and having a guy like Philip -- as a coach, I'd think that was a big benefit to Chip."

Lindsey's easygoing approach resonated with his players, but none more than Lutzenkirchen, whose father was the president of the Lassiter booster club and whose sister, Ann, babysat Lindsey's four children. Following Lassiter's second-round playoff loss to North Gwinnett that season, Lutzenkirchen sent a text to Lindsey during the team's bus ride back to Marietta: "Hey, big guy, thank you so much for coming to our school and making our senior year one we will never forget. Love you, Phil."

Some call it coincidence, but the Lutzenkirchen family likes to call it a "Philip wink."

It's their twist on a God wink -- a moment or event that lets them know their son is watching over them.

"People that don't have religious faith, I think they think that's a coincidence, but when you have faith and believe in God, that's a God wink; we changed it to a Philip wink," Mike Lutzenkirchen said. "It just triggers us to say Philip is with us."

The Lutzenkirchens see a Philip wink on the Plains, where happenstance has brought their son's high school coach together at Auburn with the player Philip influenced most during his brief coaching career.

Ever since Lutzenkirchen graduated following the 2012 season, Auburn hasn't had much use for tight ends in Gus Malzahn's offense. Lutzenkirchen holds the program record for touchdowns by a tight end with 14, the most memorable of which was a 7-yard reception that completed an unbelievable comeback in the 2010 Iron Bowl against Alabama.

Lutzenkirchen finished his Auburn career with 59 catches for 628 yards. In the four years since, Auburn's tight ends have totaled 27 receptions for 347 yards, including just two for 16 yards over the last two seasons -- both by Harris in 2016. That figures to change this fall, with Lindsey looking to turn the seldom-used tight ends into dynamic playmakers in his revamped offense. Harris, a junior with two touchdowns in as many career catches, is expected to be the No. 1 option to fill that role this season.

In Harris, Lindsey sees a player whose career was influenced in the early stages by Lutzenkirchen -- himself heavily influenced by Lindsey during his playing days.

"It kind of is neat to think about," Lindsey said. "Philip had a huge effect on a lot of people." 

The two discussed that shared bond throughout the spring, developing their own relationship over the course of several one-on-one sit-downs at the Auburn athletics complex. Lindsey shared some of his memories of coaching Lutzenkirchen at Lassiter, while Harris brimmed with joy reminiscing about the way Lutzenkirchen approached his first opportunity coaching at St. James.

Like Lindsey, Harris still gets emotional when he talks about Lutzenkirchen. He still smiles when he does it, but you can hear the emotion inflected in his voice and see the tears well up in his eyes.

"I think Jalen thinks about Philip all the time, man," Terrence Harris said. "He talks about how he wants to make him proud of him."

Now, three years after Lutzenkirchen's death, Lindsey and Harris get to carry on his memory at Auburn.

"I know he'd be thrilled if he knew what Chip was up to now," Penter said. "Philip rooted hard for Auburn after he graduated like most alumni do, but I think this year he would be rooting extra hard for them with Chip and Jalen in the mix."


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Lutz was a stud on the field, but that pales in comparison to the guy he was off the field. 

As for Jalen, I would love to see him add about a dozen catches and maintain his catch to TD ratio. 

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