Former Auburn TE Philip Lutzenkirchen Embodied Student-Athlete Ideal

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News of former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen dying in an automobile accident Sunday rocked the college football community. Coaches, players, fans and media all shared their thoughts on a young man who was, by all accounts, the quintessential All-American student-athlete.

He played with tenacity and determination.

As a member of Auburn’s 2010 BCS Championship team, he caught five touchdown passes. Lutzenkirchen added seven more in 2011. His play showed how effective the tight end could be used in Gus Malzahn’s uptempo, spread offense, and he continued to contribute to the position after graduation.

Philip Lutzenkirchen was a volunteer assistant coach at Saint James School, imparting his knowledge of the game to a younger generation. One of his players, Jalen Harris, opted to follow in Lutzenkirchen’s footsteps when he signed with the Tigers just last week.

Lutzenkirchen broke down Harris’ potential for AL.com:

“I played a very similar role I think Jalen will play there. You are able to line him up outside wide, play with his hand in the dirt and play as a fullback. I don’t think coach Malzahn has had a guy with that size and that athleticism before. It will be interesting to see what kind of creativity coach Malzahn comes up with to emphasize him.”

It’s no wonder Lutzenkirchen earned the admiration of the Auburn family.

Our thoughts & prayers as well as our aching hearts go out to the Lutzenkirchenfamily and all his grieving friends. pic.twitter.com/B1xEbC3Q3q

— AUFAMILY (@AUFAMILY) June 29, 2014

But his character also won the respect of respect of those outside the program, like Miami offensive coordinator James Coley. While serving as tight ends coach at Florida State, Coley recruited Lutzenkirchen to become a Seminole.

It takes more than simply excelling on the field to garner the kind of praise heaped on Lutzenkirchen. And indeed, when his prospects for an NFL dimmed, he shined in other areas.

His diary of an undrafted NFL prospect for SB Nation last month is illuminating. His perspective on the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is hilarious, but also a touching look at being a big brother.

Lutzenkirchen was also ready to embark on a career in finance management, potentially helping NFL-bound college athletes in the next phase of their lives. CEO and President of McDonald & Barranco Capital Wealth Management Brandt McDonald told The Plainsman his character gave him a bright future in the industry:

“He’s got honesty and integrity, he’s an honorable person and he’s proven that to the Auburn people, so that was a hurdle that we didn’t even have to overcome because I knew that immediately.”

Coach, columnist, financial planner: Lutzenkirchen had any number of opportunities, which makes his death at just 23 years old so tragic. But it was a life well-lived that deserves to be honored and remembered.

His fans, opponents, friends and family ensure that it will be.