It began Nov. 26, 2010. After rallying back from a 24-0 deficit, Auburn sealed its come-from-behind victory against Alabama with a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, marking the start of the Lutzy era.
The standout senior tight end has been a staple in Auburn’s offense since that fateful 2010 season and has quickly become a fan favorite despite being in an offense that hasn’t featured his position until this year.
His 14 career touchdowns are the most by a tight end in Auburn history.
In a nation completely enthralled with Cam Newton, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Marietta, Ga., native managed to wrangle the attention of the college football world his sophomore year after completing 15 catches for 185 yards and five touchdowns.
But Lutzenkirchen’s impact stretches further than the football field. And this season, people started to take notice.
Allstate Insurance Company and the American Football Coaches Association announced its 2012 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team in September, with Lutzenkirchen named among 21 other players from across the nation.
As one of college football’s most prestigious service honors, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team recognizes the positive, off-the-field influence student-athletes have on their communities.
“It was actually kind of out of the blue,” Lutzenkirchen said. “I wasn’t expecting it at all. There are just so many people, different football players, out there that are probably doing the same thing, but I just have a different platform being at a school like Auburn, so I probably get recognized before some of those other people do. I wish more people could get the opportunity that I’m going to get, to go to New Orleans and help out, but I’ve just been blessed with my platform and being recognized.”
To reward the players on their outstanding leadership and charitable accomplishments, the award recipients are invited to New Orleans to participate in a special youth football clinic leading up to the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Lutzenkirchen’s community involvement includes helping start a Youth for Christ chapter at a local Auburn high school, but his main passion is visiting and helping cheer up children with cancer or other serious illnesses.
“Children who are going through a tough time with cancer or illness or whatnot, just being able to help them, whether it’s five minutes or a day, and just take their mind off what they’re going through, it’s just special for me,“ Lutzenkirchen said.
His commitment to helping others isn’t new. From an early age, Lutzenkirchen’s parents instilled in him a selfless attitude, explaining that service isn’t a choice; it’s a duty.
“My parents have just done a great job of raising me and making it clear from early on that we’re put on this earth to serve others, not to be served,” Lutzenkirchen said. “We did a lot of stuff as a family during Christmas time and the holidays to help other people, and I’ve just kind of carried that over to when I’ve been here.”
For student-athletes, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and glamour that comes with the uniform, but Lutzenkirchen has found a way to stay grounded despite his on-field success. To him, helping the community isn’t a chore; it’s a privilege.
“You’re never too busy to help someone else,” Lutzenkirchen said. “People see that I’m helping these kids, but at the same time, these kids are helping me realize how blessed I am, how fortunate I am to be in the situation that I am.”